Can anyone recommend a PG game to introduce middle school students to text adventures?

I’m trying to design a project where students create a text adventure. Before they can get started, they need to be familiar with text adventures in the first place. Can anyone recommend a good text adventure suitable for a first introduction? It should be a fully traditional, without pictures, so students understand the concept of it being like a novel they can interact within.

I really like the old games by Level 9, such as Snowball and Lords of Time, but don’t know if they are PG. Since it is a text game, its so hard to check the content, as there can be content I can’t find that students stumble upon. I don’t want students stumbling upon content parents would object to.

I tried Zork, but found many bugs, like “You’re in front of a door”. “Open door” “What door?” so I think that would be too frustrating of an introduction.

I should also mention, anything with witches, snakes, or bears, in it are not permitted, locally. Some students are Native Americans, their parents really get upset with content with these…if a student were to be injured, they’d blame the game (and me) for having content that got them hurt.


I’d recommend Dreamhold, by Andrew Plotkin. It’s PG rated, has puzzles but isn’t particularly difficult, has an extensive built-in hints system (not just about puzzles, but about how to navigate IF), and there are walkthroughs and maps available online.


Keep an eye on this Game Jam… It’s specifically targeted at creating games for kids…




Glowgrass - Details ( is my go-to game for this kind of recommendations. Easy puzzles, immersive world, traditional but non-frustrating gameplay.

I understand why, but personally I find Dreamhold too big and winding and twisty for a first encounter with IF.


Glowgrass seems interesting, and a small game, so seems good. Is there any way students can play it on-line?


If you want a very fast paced game without graphics then either of the following two games is available to play online (or on phones in fact):

Treasures of Hollowhill.



@mathbrush compiled this great list of games: A starter pack for those new to interactive fiction.


It’s a TADS (version 2) game, and there’s this thread from a few years ago about playing TADS in-browser. I haven’t tried any of the suggestions myself, and there are places where the discussion veers from “how to accomplish this” to “here are the technical problems involved,” but it also contains several potential solutions and might be a good starting point for experiments.

On the other hand, depending on the students and what kind of equipment you have, projecting the game with an overhead projector (or getting a small- to medium-sized group to gather around a large monitor) and playing it collaboratively might be a good move. If nothing else, people having trouble figuring out how to engage with the game can (a) let others make suggestions, and (b) see that it’s not an impossible skill to learn: “the person next to me has never played this kind of game before but she can figure out to connect the cable to the power source, and so maybe I can learn to, too.” Having other students demonstrate the capacity for learning the new skill can help overcome a student’s belief that the task is impossible to learn.

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Excellent idea! Playing IF in group is a great experience.

Are you reffering to an in-game puzzle or hooking up the overhead projector? I have more trouble with the latter. :wink:

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Just as an fyi: there might be some PG-rated games on that list, but some are definitely not.

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Ha! I was vaguely remembering an in-game puzzle from when I played Glowgrass, though of course letting students provide input in hooking up technology can be a group puzzle of a different kind.

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Which brings us neatly to this thread:

Has IF improved you in any way? - General / Off-Topic Discussion - The Interactive Fiction Community Forum (

Me, IF helps me to stop and think before I begin solving a problem.
(Counting how many cables of which colour and length I have in the overhead projector example.)
(And looking around the room to see if I have a chair or table nearby to stand on.)
(And checking the thing’s buttons.)
(I do not ,however, obsessively look around the room every 2 minutes.)

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For me, it’s much more in the “do I have absolutely everything I might need in my backpack” vein. Yes, I have a charging cord for my phone, and a few batteries, and extra pens, and my journal, and a corkscrew, and a map of the county, and a small camera, and a bottle of water, and something to read, and some bungee cords in case I ride my bicycle out into the world that day and discover that I need to strap something to the rack over the rear wheel, and a candy bar, and a CAT5 cable, and …

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Oh, so you’re Milo Murphy?

(A cartoon where the protagonist has the right thing for every situation in his backpack)

I thought that was Dora the Explorer…

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I think Lost Pig is great for that. PG story that’s hilarious, with a built-in hint system.


As an extremely entry-level introduction to IF I’d recommend Best Gopher Ever, which has the sensibilities and charm of the best kind of weekday afternoon cartoons.


ZORK. Start with THE classic.

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Adventure (the Crowther and Woods game), for instance in Nelson’s Inform implementation, is actually pretty good as an introduction. They won’t solve all the puzzles, but they can explore a fair bit of cave without solving any.

Six would be good, but maybe these are kids at the age where they DO NOT want to play a game about six-year old kids?

I very highly recommend The Impossible Bottle. I don’t think there is any non-PG content, but you could ask Linus to be sure.

Definitely not The Game Formerly Known As Hidden Nazi Mode.


What about Lost Pig? It’s funny, has lots of responses for silly commands, only has a few rooms, and once you know the story it’s quick to play through. It’s also got a tidy up after yourself moral.

Zork is great too. Any bugs you find could be a good teaching point. But it’s so big that it’s probably hard for very young children to imagine.

What age are the children?

Edit: Sorry Katryna - somehow I hadn’t seen your post recommending Lost Pig when I wrote mine.