Poll: When did you play IF for the first time?

This is just for fun. If you’re not sure, feel free to guess.

When did you play IF for the first time?
  • Before 1975
  • 1975-1979
  • 1980-1984
  • 1985-1989
  • 1990-1994
  • 1995-1999
  • 2000-2004
  • 2005-2009
  • 2010-2014
  • 2015-2019
  • 2020-present
  • I have never played IF

0 voters


It is vaguely disorienting that, according to this poll, a good ~40% of the people on this forum played their first IF game before I was born.


I tried Zork once or twice as a kid and played a few school text adventures, but I didn’t actually get into IF until I tried Frotz on the iPad in 2010. Then I gave it up when I got married a couple months later and didn’t play again until 2015.

So I’m a relative newcomer who’s been actively playing for less than a decade.


I mean, think about how we feel!

I’m in a not-dissimilar boat from Brian – I played a few IF games in the late 80s/early 90s, with my clearest memory messing around with a copy of Wishbringer in my sixth-grade classroom in what would have been 1991? I remember liking the concept, and the cool rock and letter that came in the box, but it was way too hard.

Then I came across the “amateur” IF scene in 2002, I think based on Photopia getting some broader attention, and was pretty well immersed for five or six years before life got busy and I only dipped into things intermittently. And then about two years ago the bug bit me again, largely due to stumbling across Jimmy Maher’s blog. So despite being into IF for several decades at this point, I feel like I have a lot of weird blind spots since I’ve only played a few of the Infocom games and have only superficial knowledge of anything that happened from like 2010-18, but roll very deep on obscure also-rans from IFComp 2003.


I came into contact with Hichhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in 2003/2004 and was completely dumbfounded. What the hell was I supposed to do? I later learned that this might not have been the easiest introduction to IF.
It did intrigue me though, and I found the IF Archive not much later. The timing meant that when I searched for five star games, I got a list of more or less freshly made classics. [Edit: I must remember this wrong. See Zarf below.]
It was only (“only”, he says…) five years after the IF boom of the late 90s. I still love this period of experimentation on the one hand and cementing the amateur IF groundwork on the other hand.

But there was no IF Archive search, and no star ratings for that matter, until IFDB went up in 2007…

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You’re right. I must have gotten my years mixed up.

I do remember clearly that there was a list of recommended games at the top of the website where I got my first IFs, and that it contained Photopia, Worlds Apart, Anchorhead, Metamorphoses and Spider and Web among others.


Leather Goddesses of Phobos. I think I told it I was 85 so I could play Lewd Mode. I think I was actually 8.5. Misplaced decimal points do happen…


My first was a text adventure on a floppy disk (one of the giant legitimately floppy one, not the 3.5" ones) that came with some horrible DOS based PC with a black and green dot matrix monitor that my dad bought for us thinking it would be acceptable to use for homework in 1992. Spoilers: It wasn’t.

I believe the game was McMurphy’s Mansion, which ironically is everything I dislike about text adventures (namely the storyless puzzle romps), but it got me interested in the genre. I think it was eye opening for me when they gave me a game over for burning the mansion down when I decided to try lighting the couch on fire.

Although if we’re being broader in the IF term, technically my first IF game was a gamebook I played way back in 1st grade ('85-ish?). I don’t remember the name of it but it was based on a similar post apocalyptic setup as Mad Max (which I obviously wasn’t familiar with at the time). I remember the rules were confusing and I refused to roll dice or track stats, so I just played it like a CYOA book and won every fight.

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My start with IF was playing Graham Nelson’s version of Adventure on a Java applet on some gaming site, a technology which, oddly enough, is now much more obsolete than the ancient Z-machine.

Actually, there’s a game that might count as IF which I played much earlier, as a kid, where you enter a number and get a procedurally generated world (sort of like FreeCell) of 100 rooms containing 15 weapons and 15 treasures, each guarded by a creature who can only be overcome with a specific weapon. There were bats that sometimes flew you to a random location like in Hunt the Wumpus, and a roving pirate like in Adventure. Unfortunately, it had neither story nor interesting puzzles, being basically just an exercise in brute-force searching. The fun part was the descriptions of the rooms, which included a giant’s mousetrap (“Fortunately, you are small enough to escape”), a Confederate bank vault (“Once-worthless currency papers the walls”), and “the room where old toenail clippings come to rest.” The one I played was named “Treasure,” but I think it’s also been released as “Mines”. I once found a web page for the game, showing that the author had created a version for every conceivable platform, including the TI-83 calculator.

Edit: I think this is it, though the rooms, treasures, and weapons might have been different in the version I played.


Early 1981 - Temple of Raaka-Tu on the TRS-80.

Coincidentally I discovered that, along with CYOA books (The Cave of Time), and the game Dungeons and Dragons, all within days or weeks of each other.


I was visiting my father’s workplace, and got to play Adventure on a PDP-10. Probably '78 or '79.


OK, I’ll bite … I started with Adventure in the late 70’s. I can’t say exactly which of the early Adventure versions, but it was definitely written in Fortran. I remember playing it after hours with other engineers at Hewlett-Packard, and I believe we were using the lab’s HP 3000 mainframe.

After that I can recall various Infocom games on PC-type gear, and then I dropped out of the IF scene for a long time.

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In the early 2000s, before IFDB, there was Baf’s Guide (with star ratings too).

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Did Baf’s Guide have stars? I see it did; I forgot that.

Yes, there were many “intro to IF” page floating around in those early years.

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1980 for me, when I was just 8. My dad borrowed an Apple II to bring home over Christmas. I remember trying Colossal Cave. As well as playing a lot of Lemonade Stand!

Yes I feel old :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I was playing if in a zx81, then my parents bought me a ZX Spectrum.
I often bought english k7 if by mail.
After that I used a +3. Then got a PC and I started playing graphic adventures till last year. Since a year ago I have returned to text if’s world.

c. 1981 (sixth grade)
Scott Adams, Adventureland (or Pirate Adventure)
a friend’s Atari 400 (the one with the membrane keyboard)
cassette drive

– Skinny Mike

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A friends family got an VIC-20 and there my friend, me and another friend played Adventureland, Pirate Adventure & Mission Impossible (all Scott Adams). This must have been 1981 or 1982 when I was 14-15 years old.

Later (maybe 1983) I and the “another friend” above “obtained” a copy of “The Hobbit” through a teacher we had. None of us had a computer at the time so we had to play it in different computer stores that had C64:s on display. I worked as a paperboy and saved up to my own C64 later that year.

Another memory from this time is yet another friend that had an Atari 800XL (I think, memory is a bit hazy). We mostly played “Miner 2049er” on this but he also had “Pyramid” by Rodger Olsen. He himself wasn’t that interested in playing it so I made transcript by hand of this BASIC-program and made my own C64 port of “Pyramid”. Fun Fact: I remade this port a couple of years back from the TRS-80 program to run it in a C64 emulator. This time without the manual, by hand, transcript.

The next year I had saved enough money to by me a 1541 disc drive. This opened up access to all the Infocom games. I don’t remember wich game that was the first Infocom I played but it was probably “Zork I”.

I also was a member in “SÄK” during these years. SÄK stands for “Svenska Äventyrsklubben”, aka “The Swedish Adventure Club” and was founded in 1984. We had a fanzine and, as I remember, this was a great source for clues. (@fredrik Are these scanned and available online? I have a small recollection that you worked on this).

Edit: I found one issue of the fanzine here (in swedish I’m afraid).


There was a bit of a controversy, and that work was paused.

The issue you did find online is one that I scanned many years ago.

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