Note: ZoI will sometimes cover subjects other than board wargames; I intend to make good use of Categories to make different facets of the blog as accessible as possible.

I just came across this online copy of Henry Melton’s “Catacomb.” Originally published in 1985 in TSR’s Dragon magazine, this short story is a remarkably prescient anticipation of contemporary MMORPGs, also including obvious elements of interactive fiction and MOOs/MUDs. I remember being enthralled by the concept at the time, and thinking that I’d be lucky to ever live in a world where such things were possible. The most striking aspect of the story today are undoubtedly the cash pay-offs the characters receive, a brute force literalization of the more elusive virtual economies charted by Castronova. Anyway,the story holds up quite well and is recommended reading for anyone interested in game studies and new media—indeed it should be accepted as a notable historical text in those fields, and is surely one of the earliest pieces of fiction about computer games.

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