What was the first one-room game?

Hi. I recently came across the early text adventure game One Room by Jorge Mir. It was published as a program-listing for the TRS-80 in the Rainbow Book Of Adventures (and on the accompanying data cassette tape) in 1983.* (The code has recently been ported to BBC BASIC, and the port is playable online.)

Does anyone know if One Room was the first text adventure game where all the action takes place in a single room? (I’m not counting the number of locations that are implemented in the underlying source code. From the player’s point of view, there’s only one room to explore.)

Wikipedia mentions John Wilson’s 1988 game for the ZX Spectrum, Behind Closed Doors, “in which the player is trapped inside a restroom” – but One Room predates it by about five years.

IFDB goes back a bit further, to 1985’s Adventure Of The Year, but One Room is still earlier.

:question:

  • [size=85]The exact year of publication of the first Rainbow Book Of Adventures, in which the program-listing for One Room appeared, is unclear. The listing itself says, “© 1982”. But the Gaming After 40 blog, Google Books, and Moby Games give the year of publication of the book as 1983. However, Archive.org disagrees and goes for 1985 instead. Incredibly, the actual text of the book (outside of the listings) doesn’t seem to mention a year at all![/size]

Two Heads of the Coin (1979) is a one-room game.

https://bluerenga.wordpress.com/tag/two-heads-of-the-coin/

Local Call for Death (also 1979) is a two-room game.

https://bluerenga.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/local-call-for-death-1979/

You could argue the former is actually a zero-room game (the room is described but it’s otherwise all conversation), but if you count that way, Local Call for Death would be a one-room game (since there’s only one room that you interact with).

Thanks, Jason. I did vaguely remember those games but I couldn’t quite recall their names or any searchable details. (I did a lazy search of your blog for “one room” and “single room” but without success.) And all this despite my having actually commented about the games on your blog at the time! :blush:

Hard to know how to classify Two Heads Of The Coin, but I do think there’s a good case for Local Call being the first one-room text adventure game – if I’m right in my recollection that it involves you searching the room for evidence and that you have to EXAMINE objects (and possibly manipulate them), etc.

But perhaps One Room can still lay claim to the title of the first room-escape game.

:question:

  • One room is a four location game.
  • Two Heads Of The Coin is a two location game.
  • Local Call is not an escape game.

It’s not a contradiction to describe One Room as a single-room game (i.e. a game that’s set in a single room) and as a game that’s implemented as multiple locations (in code). It’s both.

So are many of the games tagged “single room” on IFDB (though I admit I haven’t gone through all 189 of them). So too are several games that have been entered into the L’avventura è l’avventura (One Room Game Competition).

:bulb:

I made a shambolic video about One Room:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuJQqBVZGnw

And I wrote an ill-considered blogpost to accompany it:

https://ahopeful.wordpress.com/2018/08/10/one-room-1983-the-first-one-room-game/

:bulb:

I have no problem calling that a “one-room game”. But I object to calling it a “room escape game”. That genre concept didn’t exist before the first wave of Flash escape games (Crimson Room, etc, 2004).

Now that is a real challenge for any writer to keep everything in one room. Then again they make complete movies now being just in one room or in the back of a car so maybe a room is dooable if it is big enough.