A Not-So-Brief History of the CRPG


Have you ever wondered how World of Warcraft became the game industry’s biggest moneymaker? To really get the full story, you need to look back at the hit computer role-playing games which helped create an audience for it. I’ve spent many hours reading over the crazy antics and outrageous risks that pioneers have taken, but rarely has the story of just the games been told. That’s where the current piece on Gamasutra, written by Dr. Matt Barton, comes in.

Dr. Barton takes great care in working his way through the history of gaming, and trust me when I say he leaves no stone unturned:

Throughout the “Silver Age,” which lasted from 1981 until 1983, change would come gradually and mostly consist of improvements in graphics and user interface. Important series like Ultima and Wizardry appeared on the market, solidifying every gamer’s expectations about what a CRPG should be. Meanwhile, innovative games like Telengard, Dungeons of Daggorath (Tandy CoCo), Tunnels of Doom (TI-99/4A), and The Sword of Fargoal (VIC-20, C-64) offered new alternatives to gamers and new models for developers. In short, by 1983, the field was sown with great ideas and impressive examples, but everyone knew that the best was yet to come.

From computerized versions of D&D to Betrayal at Krondor, Dr. Barton has painstakenly told the story of the CRPG from 1980 to 1993, and it’s pretty fascinating stuff. If you’ve ever wondered about the evolution of RPGs, then this is a must read. Just make sure you clear your schedule, first.

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