My latest short story "The Night the Lights Came On"

Friday, August 5, 2011

Videogame Memories 07 | J.R. Murdock

Download the .mp3

I grew up with video games. I think I was 5 when I was first introduced to the PONG console and I could hook up the Atari system to the back of the television by the time I was 7. I watched the games in the bars (yes, I grew up in a town where kids could go the bar) change from Tank and Breakout to Pac Man and Zaxxon. Computers in the schools that started appearing were the Apple II and Apple II+. I discovered Lode Runner quite early.

I was fascinated with video games. It was in the early 80s when I discovered Dungeons and Dragons. It was also in the early 80s when I discovered Dungeons and Daggorath for the TRS-80 that my father had bought for me. I was entranced by the thought of exploring a dungeon, but it was a difficult game that was slow, clunky and you couldn’t save your place unless you had a tape drive (that I would acquire much later).

But then I found Wizardry for the Apple II. This game took much of what my young brain knew about Dungeons and Dragons and put it into a game that I could play. I could roll up characters, put them into the dungeon and explore, map, and discover and best of all save my progress! Before my eyes games grew up from being a static simplistic game to something where you could grow, expand and play longer than the machine you were playing on was turned on.

My characters were saved and I would find any excuse to sneak out of class and into the computer lab. I skipped lunch. I would go to school early. I would stay at school late. Anything to get more time on the computer to play that game just a few minutes longer. It didn’t matter that the game was green lines on a black background. I knew those dungeon levels like I knew the back of my hand. I would send hours trying to map out the mazes before I realized I was in a maze and have to erase much of what I’d mapped out.

Eventually I would have an Apple IIe of my very own. With a color monitor! I would play any game that provided me a story to follow. The Zork series which was entirely text based. The Ultima games. Bard’s Tale. Alternate Reality. I couldn’t get enough and played every chance I could.

Even after the Apple IIe was no longer a viable gaming machine I continued to play RPGs on gaming systems. Moving on to the first Nintendo gaming systems and playing Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda. Games had finally started to mature with similar story lines, but far better graphics.

I knew my addiction and I knew it well and I also knew what it took to feed the beast. I stopped playing games for a long time. I missed out on the first wave of World of Warcraft and after hearing so many people rave about how great the game was, I knew I had to stay away. I would easily be sucked into a game like that, I know.

But even today, I still enjoy going online and downloading an Apple emulator and picking up the games I used to play so much. I still have a copy of the original Wizardry on my computer and every once in a while, I’ll make a bishop, identify 9, and take a couple of characters at super high level around the dungeon and have fun.

J.R. Murdock is an avid reader of almost anything he can get his hands on. That being said, he also writes with near reckless abandon in any and every genre. His style is intended for pure entertainment. Over the years he’s written nine novels and over one hundred short stories. Only a few short stories have seen print (in actual print and on the web) so he’s decided to throw his hat into the podcasting arena with his novel V & A Shipping. Since then he has also podcast his novel Billy Barbarian and released his YA novel Astel: Chosen, not to mention the great short stories he's podcast in his Murdockian Tales series.

When not writing like a mad-man, J.R. Murdock does have a day job as a computer programmer and loves to spend time with his lovely wife and beautiful daughter.


  1. I remember our copy of Wizardry was broken in such a way that every time I went to the inn, all my characters gained a level.
    So, after doing that a couple hundred times, Wizardry became a completely different game.
    And then you could import your Wizardry characters into Bard's Tale? Yeah...
    Good times.

  2. That's awesome! Thanks for sharing Zach.

  3. I failed European History because we were in the computer lab playing Wizardry

  4. Sean, thanks for adding some of your memories to the mix! Too bad you failed, but I bet you like your memories of playing Wizardry more than memories of European History class! :)