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‘Go north’ and navigate Wikipedia as a text-only adventure game

wikipedia text adventure game
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Forget clicking endless links in your next deep-dive into bizarre topics in a Wikipedia binge, the new old-school way for navigating that peakless mountain of information is a text adventure game. The Javascript project has you making your way through connected articles with traditional commands like “go north,” “go east,” and similar.

Wikipedia has close to 6 million articles in the English language alone, many of which are regularly fought over by online activists and trolls. That sheer number means making your way through them all in any meaningful way is no mean feat. What London-based developer, Kevan Davis, has done though, is condensed the experience of learning about different parts of the world into a digital tour, complete with ’80s era pixellated graphics and commands.

Wikipedia: The Text Adventure works in browsers and on mobile and sees you faced with a series of starting locations. Once clicked, you receive a heavily compressed image, as well as a summary of the location. You can then choose from a number of directions, each leading you to another article about a nearby location, which in turn is summarily described before you are presented with another series of options.

Although presented as an adventure game from the bygone eras of gaming, there is not too much adventuring to be had in the experience beyond learning. As Ars Technica points out, though you can pick up items and examine objects, they do not give you any additional abilities or open up new quest lines. This adventure is a quest for knowledge alone and there is little to be found on the sidelines.

Some have still found joy in it, though. ‘Players’ can see their inventory as a collection of keepsakes reminding them of where they ended up on their meandering wander through Wikipedia’s towering digital tomes.

The project was purportedly born from a previous development of Davis, which saw him playing around with Wikipedia’s API to have it pull text fragments together to form an autonomously written travel novel. It was that focus on locations from Wikipedia articles that lead to his drive to build a way to make your way through the mass of information.

If Wikipedia is a little too real-world for your text-adventuring ways, why not try out the ‘text’ adventure game based on Mr. Robot?

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Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
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