Thank you for the acknowledgment. I’d be more interested in seeing you clarify/expand on the point you’re trying to make than apologize for shoehorning some data, though.
My bigger concern was the way you seemed to blur the very different contexts in which those games were played and how their early adopters would view them as investments/amusements.
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs does a nice job setting the stage with our hypothetical Zork I early adopter:
[The Apple II] looks like a product, it looks like something you could buy in a store, and indeed, thousands of Americans run out and buy it. And they have this brand new experience that Americans had never had before, the experience of going out and buying an incredibly expensive piece of machinery, setting it all up correctly, turning it on…and nothing happens.
It just goes:
<<mimics the sound of an Apple II booting up, disk drive whirring, then mimes a cursor blinking>>
Zork I is one of just a relative handful of respites from the endlessly, pointlessly blinking cursor.
So yes, I don’t think you can accurately reach conclusions about a Zork I buyer from a pioneering Starborn player. And yes I agree with you that the completion rate of Zork I is probably fairly low (certainly “fairly low without help”.)
But I feel like you aren’t capturing the context in which sitting down at Zork and being subjected to every abuse, every whim, every “nyah, we’re MIT engineering grads and you’re not” was almost literally the only thing that very expensive computer was good for.
I guess I would like to see you expand on the question: so what? So what if (let’s say) we agree that it’s likely that only one-in-six Zork I buyers finished it subject to whatever list of constraints we set (no hints, within a year of purchase, whatever). What does that mean about the game? About the players? About something else?
My “so what” is that for some players, just participating in the hype surrounding games like Zork and Myst was sufficient. “I am part of the personal computer/multimedia revolution.” Engaging in those games, even if they got hopelessly stuck, was plenty good enough, because they got to feel a part of something new and exciting.
(sidebar, genuine question: is CCA as shorthand for Colossal Cave Adventure something that has been used elsewhere, or are you trying to coin it? When I think of shorthand for That Crowther/Woods/etc. Game With a Lantern, I think of “advent.”)