Personal adventures: the shift from player to author


Author/Creator ORCID




University of Baltimore. School of Information Arts and Technologies


University of Baltimore. Doctor of Communications Design

Citation of Original Publication


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The formative years of computer gaming saw the birth of a genre dedicated to storytelling as a primary experience. These games, adventure games, briefly rose to dominance within the industry in the nineties but faded fast. Sequels in the major franchises and planned games for the new millennium were mostly cancelled, and the genre is often held up as an example of a failed experiment where games tried too hard to play the role of traditional media. Yet while commercial innovation fell to the wayside fan communities continued to keep the genre alive, passing around games deemed abandonware and building their own games, both extensions of the familiar and new narratives. These projects emerge from communities united not by love of any single classic game but by devotion to a genre, a form, which the members of the community extended and rebuilt. The fans who created ways to extend this form of gaming throughout two decades were concerned less with evolution in graphics and processor speeds than with keeping games playable and available on modern computers. Their efforts created value even in games that had been left unsold by developers for ten years or more, and a revitalization in the genre has begun with innovation moving freely from communal to commercial space.