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Section :: Rants and Raves

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TV - Last Haven Of The Adventure Game?

The Lost Room
Monday 7 December 2009.

When I watched The Lost Room on DVD this weekend I had a sudden but unmistakable sense of déjà-vu.

This American mini-series involves characters exploring a variety of locations in which to find ‘objects’ with interesting powers. The people who look for these objects are called ‘collectors’ and the principal place in which objects are located is a mysterious ‘room’ whose doors connect to a variety of different places at different times. This provides a handy means of transporting a character around the world of the show without having to waste valuable plot-hours sending him on complicated journeys.

I hadn’t been watching many minutes before I realised where I’d come across this type of world before - in an adventure game. The lead character is the game player. The room and its various exits are just like the multi-connected rooms, mazes, time-machines and transporters that feature in so many classic text adventures. The ‘objects’ are the treasures and, just like adventure game objects, the most mundane things (a clock, a comb, a glass eye!) can turn out to have the most extraordinary powers. You can even save and restore the game. The ‘lost room’ in the title has a ‘reset’ mechanism which restores it to an earlier state.

In fact, so much did The Lost Room remind me of an adventure game (I mean, even referring the magic items as ‘the objects’ must be an oblique reference to ‘object orientation’, mustn’t it?) that I assumed the special feature documentary on the DVD would reveal that the authors of The Lost Room had misspent their youths playing Zork and Colossal Cave and that they would spill the beans about the influence of those games on their show.

So when the documentary didn’t even mention adventure games I was more than a little disappointed.

Oh well, I guess it is just about possible that ideas that permeate The Lost Room came about completely independently and the exploring/connected-room/puzzle-solving/objects-with-magical-powers/room-that-saves-and-restore themes are all entirely coincidental. If so, all I can say is that I have hitherto underestimated the power of coincidence.

Anyway, suffice to say, I enjoyed The Lost Room and would have been happy to see it developed into a longer series. However, since the show was made in 2006 and I can’t see any signs of a follow-up, I guess this may not happen.

If any other TV exec’ fancies the idea of adapting an adventure game into a drama series, I’ll be happy to discuss my own contribution to the genre, The Golden Wombat Of Destiny. :-)

Apart from that, a game that I genuinely believe could be made into a very fine TV series is Brian Moriarty’s Trinity. This was, in my opinion, one of the very best games ever produced by Infocom (the company best known for Zork). Trinity begins, rather whimsically, in London’s Kensington Gardens, a little haven of Victorian England populated by nannies - and it ends at the Trinity atomic bomb test site in New Mexico. As with all good text adventures, it had a great story and interesting locations.

Now that film and TV producers have ransacked all the comic book characters, maybe it’s time they turned their attentions to adventure games. The Lost Room may be just the beginning...

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