A Little on Will Crowther

Posted: October 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Text Adventure History | No Comments »

As most people know, Will Crowther himself does not appear in GET LAMP. I have people who worked with him, I have an authority on Adventure mention his preference to stay out of the limelight, and I naturally credit him for the creation of this game and the genre. But the man himself, no.

While researching the movie and preparing to shoot, I knew even then it was unlikely he’d appear. When he and Don Woods were given a special games industry award for being pioneers (by none other than Steve Meretzky and Bob Bates), Don showed, Will didn’t. I figured if you weren’t interested in being flown across the country and given an award for being so awesome, the chances of some dorky filmmaker winning you over was pretty much nil.

Here and there, in mail and in Q&As on tour, people ask me why Crowther declined (specifically, I had people contact him who knew how to and to let me know if he was willing, and nobody had him answer in the affirmative). I have answered this way and that. But the core answer is: He doesn’t discuss Adventure much anymore. I had one person indicate he was somewhat sick of the subject by the early 1980s.

I am sure I could have employed all manner of trickery to get him on camera and get something in the movie. I don’t work that way. I also didn’t go ahead and pull up photos of him (the one I use is not very informative) so he would have the privacy he wants. There was a great image of him as a caver that is in the files of the Cave Research Foundation – and there it will stay.

But if you want some idea of both the triumph of Will Crowther and some of the between-the-lines reason he doesn’t go out of his way to talk about it, there’s this article:  Spelunking the American Imagination, by Julian Dibbell. I can think of no finer contextual article of the surrounding aspects of Adventure‘s creation.

During the research phase, I stumbled on this pretty obscure, poorly labelled and indexed (for search engines) interview with Will Crowther from 1994.  He mostly discusses his ARPANET work (as he should!) but gets veered into the creation of Adventure in the beginning.

Enjoy the reading.

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