Why is Zork Dungeon Considered a Video Game?


According to our class discussions and my perception of what games are Zork would be considered a game. Although, my experience with Zork wasn’t the most exciting, the game still has the concepts that allows me to consider it a game. For Those who don’t know Zork was developed in 1979 and released in 1982. It was created at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, by Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling. It is a fiction game, under the genre of text adventure. screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-11-22-02-am“Zork is a game of adventure, danger, and low cunning. In it you will explore some of the most amazing territory ever seen by mortal man. Hardened adventures have run screaming from the terrors cottoned within!” Is the note found on the leaflet inside the mailbox when you first being the game, or text adventure.

I was very interested in Zork because it comes from a graphic-less era. I am a very visual person and decided to study video games because of the beautiful virtual worlds you find inside them. Everyday  the graphics in video games become even more realistic. Learning about a video game that is fictional based blew my mind away. I didn’t think I had the right kind of mind set to enjoy Zork for long, and I was right.

In my experience with Zork I found the game to be a little nerve-racking I made over 15 moves before figuring out how to enter the house. I found my character walking in circles going north, south, east, and west before I made a move worth while and scored my first 10points. And then came the confusion again. I found myself making some progress in tscreen-shot-2016-09-22-at-11-52-14-amhe house but I also felt like I was getting no where. The game kept telling me “that’s not a verb I recognize.” I found myself restarting the game, and trying over and over again to make real progress. I started to use less moves and make smarter decisions. I was not enjoying the game, but I found myself continuing to play.

This brings me into some of the concepts of games. Games don’t always have to be fun or enjoyable. There are other concepts that make a game a game. One big concept we discussed in class is people playing games to occupy their boredom. I wasn’t very excited when playing Zork but I definitely found time flying by. I found myself full filing my boredom with the desire to figure this game out.That brings me into the next concept of games Zork has. This concept is being completely voluntarily played. Zork is played by the gamers choice. I wasn’t playing Zork because I was forced to, I played because after learning about it in class I found myself intrigued. I wanted to challenge weather Zork should be considered a game or not. I played Zork for a reason that was completely voluntary.

Another concept of games are to have objectives and rules. There are many rules in the game Zork. These include the verbs you use when playing. I found after playing Zork that it was better to use some statements over others. Meaning using statements like: Walk to the north, and acronyms like NE for North East. The objective of Zork is to explore and find the nineteen treasures allowing you to win the game. Another objective of Zork is to earn points and that can be done by completing task. One’s objective may be to earn the highest possible points and become the “Master Adventure.” After playing this game for a little while and not finding myself make real progress I could never see myself becoming a Master Adventure.

Games include choices and in Zork you have a lot of choices. Every move you make and set you take is written by you. I feel like Zork allowed me to have to may choices at times. Because its a fictional game and I wrote some of the story I found myself stuck with out moves to make. Especially after the game rejects your first choice. You then have to think out of the box and try to think of another move to make. In the game I wanted to walk up a dark staircase, but the game told me I could not see, so I wanted to light my lantern but that wasn’t a option either. I found myself stuck thinking about what other choices I had to take. This placed me at a pause in the game.

In my experience with Zork I noticed the lack of video and sound. I believe this is what causes the big controversy over if Zork is an actual video game. However, even with those missing elements Zork still has a huge amount of hardware and software. Zork is a computer game, which includes the component of a computer generated responses. Although Zork can’t compare to video games today Zork still has a touch of mechanics.

Overall I truly believe Zork is a game. I believe if I lived in the era when Zork was first created I would have enjoyed it more than I did now. It is because of the emerging of games today that I believe myself and may others wouldn’t consider Zork a game. Even with the lack of video and images, if a checklist was done to analyze Zork it would have more required elements than missing ones. After spending time playing and analyzing Zork I definitely learned that is has the concepts and characteristics of video games played today. I am confident in my belief that Zork should be considered a video game.

Click the link to watch Zork be played.


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