Throw Back Thursday: DOS Sierra games


Last night I was talking with my kids about typewriters, their dad told them he has an old one kicking around at his office. Both kids jumped up as exclaimed, “Can we have it?” So I asked the obvious question, “Why do you want a typewriter?”


I got the nerd look and was told typewriters are cool. Seriously? I told them about my experience in Typing 10 and they laughed and said they took typing in Elementary School. Suddenly I felt vintage.


I grew up in the era of Atari and Intelevision. I played Frogger, Donkey Kong, Galaxia, and all those games you can now play on your iPad because there is an app for that. Never made the transition well to Xbox and Playstation because I suffer from motion sickness those games create for me. I can last about 10 minutes then I am laying on the floor hoping not to hurl. This is unfortunate because I would kick ass at those games…just saying.


Then one day, somewhere around 1988 when I was 21, I bought a computer. This is how stupid I was, I let my  -then Boyfriend, keep it (stupid stupid stupid). There was no Windows in those days but there was DOS, and I became quite efficient in that language. Basically that computer was a REALLY expensive type writer for me. When Windows came along my boyfriend wouldn’t upgrade because he deemed it to be a “fad”. The best I could hope for was Dos Shell, which prettified the screen and made it yellow and blue. Basically it was still just a very expensive type writer. Then I met a gal who owned a computer game that didn’t involve a deck cards.



Sierra Games came out with a series of games where you typed the actions for the character to do. This was all on several floppy disks – not hard floppys-the real floppy. This was called Police Quest. I was obsessed with this game. I would talked to other gamers to discover secrets so I could access new levels. This was before the Internet. I met these other gamers at comic shops. That’s right, I was a vintage gamer geek long before it became the new cool. My boyfriend didn’t understand my interest. I spent hours trying to crack the code. I would type different lines in hopes the police detective would check the wallet. Lines codes went something like this:


  • Open brown door
  • walk through doorway
  • turn right
  • walk straight ahead
  • pick up wallet
  • move wallet
  • open wallet
  • push wallet onto floor


I tried a 100 different ways for the detective to look inside that wallet. Then one day I met a guy  – who later ran from the Weed Party of Canada – he knew the code. You had to walk behind the table and turn the light on first before you had access to the wallet. I remember messing up and having to restart the level. SO FRUSTRATING, but so satisfying if I figured it out!


Watching Wreck it Ralph brought that all back to me. Poor Ralph lives in a vintage game celebrating his 30th anniversary. Those were the type of games I played! I felt comfort, empathy and excitement! Then there was a reference that I didn’t get. Glenda bla bla bla Huh? Apparently if I played Portal I would have understood that reference. I HATE being out of the loop!


I have high schoolers talking to me about retro geekdom from Star Wars to Star Trek, from Atari to Hand held NFL football (I loved those red led players!) All I have going for me is I was a cool geek before geeks were cool. I have finally become someone who needs to rest on her laurels. I need to download Police Quest or Leisure Suit Larry and show off my mad typing skills.




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