GET LAMP Text Adventure Documentary Coming in March

18-Feb-10 1:11 PM by
Filed under Films, Trailers; 2 comments.

When I was young, documentaries were the droll presentations that grade school students were subjected to. Usually making no pretense about their supposed educational value, these films rarely made any effort to be engaging or even entertaining. But in the last decade or two, the genre has matured (or maybe I have). The likes of An Inconvenient Truth, March of the Penguins, Welcome to Macintosh, and King of Kong have invigorated the medium to the point of making theatrical releases viable. It doesn't hurt that their topics have grown beyond their scientific and historical roots to encompass popular culture topics.

One recent example is BBS: The Documentary, which tells the stories of telecommunications' early adopters who ran dial-up bulletin boards, some of the first consumer-accessible pre-Internet networks. As a participant of that era, I was fascinated by the film's people and personalities and how vibrant their memories of that unique period was. The documentary was almost exclusively the product of one man: Jason Scott, digital archivist extraordinaire. As I wrote in my review in retrocomputing publication Juiced.GS (Volume 11, Issue 1), his inspired editing turned hundreds of hours of raw footage into several elegant and thematic chapters of computer history.

Since that film's release, Mr. Scott has been slowly chipping away at his next project: GET LAMP, a history of text adventures, or interactive fiction. As described on the film's Web site: "[using] limited sound, simple graphics, and tiny amounts of computing power, the first games on home computers … [gave birth to] an entire industry [that] rose over the telling of tales, the solving of intricate puzzles and the art of writing. Like living books, these games described fantastic worlds to their readers, and then invited them to live within them." Here's some early footage of the interviews that preserve that early entertainment art form and its responsible parties:

Mr. Scott recently gave himself a deadline for GET LAMP's publication; as a result, it is being fast-tracked for release at PAX East, a video gaming expo held March 26–28, 2010, in Boston. As the date approaches, more details about the two-disc set are being revealed. Besides ten hours of interviews, the documentary will sport several unique features: