The first app i ever met… he impressed me with his wit

Courtesy of Wikipedia

One of the first applications i ever met was the Rocky Horror Picture Show video game on a friend’s Commodore 64. I was sleeping over at Ben’s house and his brother had the game. Not sure if he knew we were playing it or not, but we were ticka ticka typing away at the text-only virtual world. We would type something and the application would respond. It sucked me in like no other game or film or just about anything had before.

After trying to legitimately complete the game, our fun eroded into sillyness. It became a game of “what could we make the computer say”? We got a couple of stock responses to some off-color remarks like “you’re a jerk” and “crap” or some such. Then, we were going to really test this app. We turned it up a notch. I typed the words “f-u-c-k y-o-u”. The response would change my perspective on these games forever. The clever game responded by asking… “your place or mine”.

Not that exciting by today’s standards, but as a 9 year old who would get lambasted for uttering that phrase, I was amazed! Not only did this cool app allow me to use the forbidden phrase – it had a snarky response prepared. “your place or mine”. Ha! We were cracking up for days over that. The application went beyond the 64 bits it was implemented on and acted like a cool older brother. One step ahead of my crass behavior, with his witty retorts.

Games like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy followed in later years. Just text and keyboard providing hours of fun. The responses had charm and wit. These applications had personality. So many today do not. That is bad. There is an amazing opportunity to instill a sense of human nature within any digital experience and it is so often overlooked. The surge of interest in Content Strategy makes me very hopeful for a return of friendly machines. I want every experience I design to transcend the robot-human interaction into more of a human-human exchange.


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