Mr. Bill's Adventureland
Editorial by Mr. Bill
In the September 1999 issue of PC GAMER, Michael Wolf wrote an article entitled 'There's No Adventure in My Life!' in which he made the statement that "the adventure game is dead", and asked for readers to send in their ideas about why the genre was "extinct". As a result, he received a flood of mail from non-extinct adventure gamers who pointed out many games (either just released or then in development) WHICH HE HAD BEEN UNAWARE OF. They included Atlantis II, Schizm, Riddle of the Sphinx, Liath, The Time Machine, WM (working title), Traitor's Gate, Faust, Amerzone, Curly's Adventure, Timelapse 2, Gilbert Goodmate and the Mushroom of Phungoria, The Longest Journey, Dog Day 2, The Real Never Ending Story and Gabriel Knight 3.
After the outraged feedback that he received, Michael not only gamely and honorably admitted that he had been wrong (in the November, 1999, issue of PC GAMER), but he also asked readers to inform him of any other adventure games currently on the horizon. The following is from our letter to him after he made that request that was emailed to Michael on October 3, 1999. It is presented here as an example of a letter that expresses strong disagreement with existing policy yet remains polite.
NOTE: After receiving many such letters from gamers (both individuals and website editors), one magazine, 'Computer Gaming World', has recently adopted a more positive stance toward Adventure Games.
Some comments and some more adventure game recommendations in response to your request for information about adventure games in PC Gamer.First of all, we want to say that we admire the fact that you're a man who can admit it publicly when you're wrong. No, as you noted in your most recent article, adventure games (and adventure gamers) are far from being dead. You just have to know where to find them.
We have operated a website for adventure gamers for several years now. We preview and review adventure games, as well as give hints and help on running games, beta test for publishers, etc. We are members of an Adventure Game Coalition of websites and online magazines (some of which we contribute to periodically), and we are also members of several Message Boards on additional sites which are solely devoted to the discussion of Adventure games.
We have a very large reading audience and so we can tell you that we know for a fact (from the feedback that we receive) that the percentage of adventure gamers out there is large and actively growing. Many of them are younger players who are just now discovering adventure games. But we have also noticed a phenomenal increase in older gamers (relatively new to both computers and computer gaming) who are very enthusiastic about adventure games, and who are not the least interested in the other genre, especially action games. They want something to relax with and which stimulates their mind. To quote one of them (when saying why she has rejected action games) "when you've jumped over one lava pit, you've jumped over them all!" Remember, Michael, this is the segment of the population with the most available discretionary income to buy whatever they want. And they are presently buying up every adventure game they can find, both new and old.
As to perhaps why you haven't been aware of these gamers, or why it isn't reflected in U.S. game sales, you answered it yourself in your article when you said, "There is no functioning (hard copy) publicity engine." Notice that we have added the words 'hard copy'. Many of these people (so they've told us) have either cancelled or didn't renew their subscriptions to the gaming magazines (yours included) when they found that those magazines were NOT supplying any information about the genre which they love. Or when they did, it was with the attitude in print that the adventure games (and gamers) were somehow inferior. Plus in recent years even when U.S. companies have produced adventure games, the publishers have neglected to advertise or give widespread store shelf display to these games, but instead have spent their marketing dollar promoting their other genres. One example is Activision's heavy promotion of 'Mech Warrior' and 'Heavy Gear' in the fall of 1997, while giving almost none to an excellent Adventure Game that they published at the same time called 'Zork Grand Inquisitor'.
The result of all this is an unusual and growing phenomenon which both you and your magazine should be aware of. The adventure gamer has gone elsewhere. These people are now buying almost all of their software online from Europe, and are relying on the Internet for their information about available games.
You should also be aware of what has happened in Europe. Several years ago the adventure gaming market was "dead" there too. But recently a big turnaround has occurred. Today there is a huge resurgence of interest in adventure games in Europe and, consequently, an increasing number of new releases of adventure games (for example, recently 5 out of the top 10 best sellers at Software First, a United Kingdom company, were Adventure Games.) Plus you have large publishers like Cryo Interactive there who've researched the market, and as a result are now actively and pointedly slanting their PC software advertising to "older gamers and women". Hopefully some bright publisher and/or magazine in the USA will soon see the money to be made in that untapped U.S. market. Cryo is also, because of that market research, now putting their adventure game 'Chine: Forbidden City' on PSX in order to introduce younger gamers to the adventure genre.
In the meantime, we strongly feel that you would be doing your remaining adventure gaming readers a service (as well as those younger gamers who have never experienced adventure games) if you would regularly review an Adventure Game. And without implying that the game is boring or that the player is somehow inferior if he happens to enjoy the experience. We would like to remind you of something that should be obvious... no one should EVER review an Adventure Game if he or she doesn't like Adventure Games in the first place. We also feel (although we don't expect it) that it would be a nice gesture if you made your readers aware that there are websites, like ours, that actively support the adventure gamer.
By the way, you should also add to your list of new adventure games:
Simon the Sorcerer 3D by AdventureSoft
Aztec by Cryo
Discworld Noir by Perfect Entertainment (released within the past month)
Pompeii by Arxel Tribe (just beginning development)
COMER by Shine Studio
The Forgotten, The Crystal Key, and Lotus Spring (all 3 published by DreamCatcher)
If we can answer any questions or be of assistance to you in any way, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Bill (Mr. Bill) & Lela
© 1999 Mr. Bill's Adventureland