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With a sweeping motion, you casually move your index finger across a shelf of the bookcase, hoping to find a title that interests you.  A few seconds later, one stands out.  Using your fingertips, you tilt the book back and pull it from the shelf.  You admire the cover art, looking for a hint of what the story will tell.  Opening the front cover, you turn the first few pages until you find a beautifully illustrated scene from the first chapter.  

Now you settle in and begin to read . . .

Mystery House, written by Roberta Williams and produced by Ken Williams, 1980.

What is a Graphical Adventure Game?

A graphical adventure game is not only a very interesting, well written text story but also has pictures, animations or movie clips, or other sounds, to help provide the story's setting, mood, and exposition.  Reading the story, character dialogues, and looking at the graphics and listening to the narration provided, gives the gamer more of the immersive experience the game producers had in mind.

Trailer for Leisure Suit Larry, 1987.

Many times, the graphical adventure game is the brainchild of the writer.  When complete and offered to gamers, it represents the total vision of a dedicated writer.  At least, as much as current computer technology can output at the time.

Arthur C. Clarke & Gentry Lee Present RAMA, 1996.

How is a Graphical Adventure Game played?

Instructions on how to interact with each game are included in the game user manual.  The game's manual can be a printed booklet or a digital computer file included on the original loading diskettes or CD.  You can also find game manuals and play walkthroughs online using your favorite search engine.  

There may be written commands typed in by the gamer below still pictures representing parts of the game.  It may be that animations or movie clips (called cutscenes) will run as the story advances, which the gamer cannot interact with but just watch.   A Point and Click graphical adventure game will have areas of the displayed graphics that the gamer points to with the mouse cursor, clicks, and then reveals something to advance the game.   An item can be examined closely for clues to the story, or may be combined with other items of the gamer's inventory to move the story along.  The gamer's inventory is a collection of things from the game world that the gamer has picked up and saved during the adventure for possible use later in the story.  

After reading the instructions, the gamer starts the story and might interact by selecting from a choice of text presented on the screen.  The gamer's choice will lead to different story paths to play through.  Sometimes the choice leads to a deadend, but just maybe it leads to the adventure!

Syberia from Benoit Sokal, Microids, and The Adventure Game Company, 2002.

Want To Try A Graphical Adventure Game?

The online demo of Machinarium from Amanita Design is the beginning of a graphical adventure game playable from your browser.  It uses point and click story advancement, and is quite a cute and memorable robot love story.   Settle in for a new adventure that you can see, hear, as well as play.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Gamers on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 12:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA, Pink Clubhouse, and Team DFH.


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