A downloadable book

Buy Now$25.00 USD or more

50 Years of Text Games: From Oregon Trail to A.I. Dungeon is an extensively researched book chronicling the first half-century of interactive fiction: video games made from words. Covering one text game released in each year from 1971 to 2020, in-depth chapters dive into classics like Zork, Trade Wars, and Hitchhiker's Guide; beloved fan games like Galatea and Photopia; wild experiments from Dwarf Fortress to Howling Dogs; and breakout hits like 80 Days, Fallen London, and Lifeline. Over 600 pages of coverage and dozens of original maps and flowcharts help explain the structure and design of each game included.

Find out more about the book on the 50 Years of Text Games website, including where to order a physical edition.

Also available: the companion volume, Further Explorations, a supplement with even more great chapters of text games history!

The digital edition of 50 Years of Text Games comes in multiple formats, all of which are unlocked with a purchase:

  • PDF version: this mirrors the layout of the printed book. Includes internal links and color images.
  • Plain text version: this contains the main text of each chapter in unadorned plain text ASCII. It does not include sidebars and other ancillary material.
  • Reflowable EPUB version: the full contents of the book in a reflowable format good for e-readers and screen readers. The conversion was created with an eye to both readability, and also following accessibility guidelines for blind or low-vision folks using screen readers.

The EPUB version has been tested and works great in the following environments:

  • Kindle devices (circa 2021 or newer; older Kindles probably are good also)
  • Kindle App (Windows) 
  • Kindle App (Android phones) 
  • Apple Books 
  • Google Play Books (Android phones/tablets)
  • Adobe Digital Editions 
  • Flow (web-based e-reader) 
  • NaturalReader (web-based screen reader)
  • Dream Reader (Mac screen reader)
  • QRead (Windows screen reader)

Note to Kindle device owners: your device now natively supports EPUB files, so please use Send to Kindle rather than manually converting the file with a third-party program, which might strip out formatting and cause other display issues.

The EPUB works but has a few issues in the following environments:

  • Calibre: displays properly, but in some versions you may need to go to Settings > Page Layout > Flow Mode to prevent advancing by chapter instead of page.
  • Kindle VoiceView (screen reader): reads main text but does not read invisible screen-reader structure hints.

The EPUB is not recommended in the following environments:

  • Kindle App for Mac or iOS: These versions of the Kindle app have not been updated as of June 2023 for full EPUB3 compatibility, and ignore most style and positioning suggestions as well as rendering accessibility text meant to be invisible. I recommend you use a different app on these devices (such as Apple Books) or try the PDF version if screen size allows.

Note for libraries, schools and universities: you are granted permission to purchase the ebook at the listed price to offer a single-use (one user at a time) electronic copy for users/students. You may purchase an unlimited license (multiple simultaneous users) for your network for the price of $75, by manually adjusting the payment price above. These licenses do not expire. I can't provide hosting solutions so you need to handle your own distribution. If you are not a library, school, or university, contact me about bulk rates.

Changeful Tales Press
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(10 total ratings)
AuthorAaron A. Reed
GenreInteractive Fiction
Tagsbook, game-history, game-studies, Text based


Buy Now$25.00 USD or more

In order to download this book you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $25 USD. You will get access to the following files:

50 Years of Text Games - Reflowable EPUB 16 MB
50 Years of Text Games - Plain Text 672 kB
50 Years of Text Games - PDF Version 39 MB

Download demo

Sample Chapter - A Mind Forever Voyaging (PDF) 7 MB
Sample Chapter - A Mind Forever Voyaging (EPUB) 2 MB