The Wild West of Video Gaming

Journey to the Center of the Earth

The text adventure Journey to the Center of the Earth is an artifact from the wild west of PC gaming.

I was born in 1978. By the time I entered this world, Greg Hassett had already written a text adventure for the TRS-80 Model 1 at twelve years old. By 1979, Mad Hatter Software had picked up his game Journey to the Center of the Earth to sell at retail. That’s certainly a feat by today’s standards.

However, this was the norm in the 70s. Personal computers were literally a new thing. Not only were they new, but they were also not particularly user friendly. Those with the means to attain one had to learn how to use one, and I don’t mean learning how to use Microsoft Office.

In the 80s, I started my computer journey on a Tandy Color Computer 1. The skills I learned on that computer have served me for the rest of my life. In those days (and with those computers) you had to have a basic understanding of how BASIC computer programs worked to have any fun at all. I spent many a weekend poking in programs out of Rainbow Magazine. I’ll let the reader decide if that’s sad or not…

We played Greg’s text adventure Journey to the Center of the Earth live. You can watch it below.

Much like Alien2B, we had a blast playing Greg’s game. Playing it got my head spinning about the past (and the present), and how fortunate we were to basically watch an entire industry be born and mature in our lifetime.

It’s mind boggling now to think that a game like Journey to the Center of the Earth got published at all. 1978 was a time when even the concept of playing a game on a computer was new. Computer enthusiasts were desperate for games to play. I’m sure that start-up computer software companies were chomping at the bit for games to sell. By the time I got old enough to notice, retail games were somewhat common.

Greg Hassett had a decade on me, and he was a part of the birth of the industry.

Like most true trailblazers, Greg’s whereabouts are unknown (at least to the Internet). Just like Darwin’s tree of life, you can trace the lineage of Activision, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft directly backward to Greg Hassett and young programmers like him. Like most young children, the companies mentioned here seem to have little interest in their heritage. Unfortunately, the industry that Greg helped to create is fighting tooth-and-nail to put profits ahead of history. The days of typing in BASIC programs out of a magazine truly are gone forever.

We’re proud to do our (very small) part to secure Greg Hassett in the archaeological record of computer game history. I was born in 1978.  I like to think that our quick run-through of his game will somehow outlast my time on this earth.

Here is a download for the game’s manual. As with Alien2B, special thanks to Stuart Feldhamer for introducing us to these games.

 

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