Infocom's Infidel

Over the past few months, I’ve made new threads to discuss Infocom games that interest me, while also updating another thread about blog posts, and and… somewhere in there, posts about a podcast.

I think I’ll do one thread every month or three weeks to keep things tidy while also, I hope, attracting some discussion.

Gold Microphone Podcast

  • Most recent episode: Anastasia Salter’s 2020 Plundered Hearts article
  • Next episode: Journey

Gold Machine Blog (Infidel)

What are your opinions of Infidel? While it has received positive writeups on IFDB by MathBrush and Emily Short, it is not a highly-rated Infocom game. I think Infidel genuinely bothers some people. Readers continue to comment on Jimmy Maher’s nine year-old essay about it. It is remarkable that people have such strong negative feelings about a forty year-old game.

At root, I think, is a philosophical question about games. What they’re for, why people play them, etc. I find Infidel’s willingness to deny us, its players–its buyers–our fantasy fulfillment fix a bit courageous and historic. Whether it’s fun or not is, of course, another story.

I think the folio is very nicely done, too, with interesting textures for each sort of paper.


As best I can recall, Infidel felt like an enjoyable but minor game. The map was pretty small. The setting was static (no NPCs or dynamic story events). Even if you set aside the last move, the ending wasn’t very dramatic. (Compared to, say, the flashy boss battle at the end of Enchanter.)


Hey there, enjoyed your blog post. Just wanted to add that the man on the cover isn’t wearing a keffiyeh but a nemes or the “Pharaoh’s headdress.”

Based on the color pattern (blue and gold), it’s likely supposed to be imitating the famous gold mask of King Tutankhamun. Believe it or not, they took that mask and lots of other treasures on tour of the United States right before Infidel was written, and it made a huge impact on people in the USA. Hell, I remember waiting for eight hours in line in Chicago to get a one-second glimpse of that mask.

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Thanks for this! I’ve updated the post.

In terms of craft/mechanics, I can’t argue with that. I found hieroglyphs decryption novel and enjoyable, but the game really has all of its gameplay eggs in that one basket.

The things I find most interesting now are external to the game: its reception and the possibility of reading it as a critique of adventure games.


The last Infidel post went up this morning. I appreciate its willingness to question the ethical implications of our electronic amusements. It seems a very forward-looking game in that regard.

Any thoughts on that? I can’t think of an earlier game that asks similar questions.

Next up is Sorcerer.

Hopefully we will have time to record the Journey podcast next week. I have a decent transcript, but Callie and I have yet to discuss the episode.