Citation

ZZT

Author:
Anthropy, Anna
Year:
2014

In 1991, long before Epic Games was putting out blockbusters like Unreal, Infinity Blade, and Gears of War, Tim Sweeney released a strange little MS-DOS shareware game called ZZT. The simplicity of its text graphics masked the complexity of its World Editor: players could use ZZT to design their own games.

This feature was a revelation to thousands of gamers, including Anna Anthropy, author of Rise of the Videogame Zinesters. ZZT is an exploration of a submerged continent, a personal history of the shareware movement, ascii art, messy teen identity struggle, cybersex, transition, outsider art, the thousand deaths of Barney the Dinosaur, and what happens when a ten-year-old gets her hands on a programming language she can understand. It’s been said that the first Velvet Underground album sold only a few thousand copies, but that everyone who heard it formed a band. Well not everyone has played ZZT, but everyone who played it became a game designer.