Get Lamp, is a documentary about video games. Old video games. Mostly old video games. Mostly old video games that do not sport graphics and are not to be played on consoles. Actually and to finally get to the point, it’s a documentary about a very special kind of text-only video games: interactive fiction (or text adventures). A documentary about the most literary and rewarding form of digital gaming so far and the only genre to truly and fully challenge ones imagination and intellect.
What’s more, Get Lamp is a brilliant and quite impressive -both in scope and execution- documentary, that, carrying on with the themes of impressiveness and brilliance, also makes for a rather great movie. After (not so) extensive field testing I can actually assure you that even people who couldn’t care less about any form of interactive entertainment whatsoever, thought it was fascinating and were actually moved to give Infocom’s Planetfall a try.
Get Lamp was directed and produced by Jason Scott, the same person that was responsible for the BBS Documentary, and the same person that apparently traveled throughout the US in a quest to conduct almost a hundred interviews, that were eventually molded into the basis of the documentary. Among the interviewed, you’ll find such impressive names as Don Woods, Scott Adams, Ian Bogost, John Romero and almost everyone from Infocom, as the movie takes viewers on a mostly chronological trip through the history of interactive fiction, stopping only to focus and expand on the important bits, in what can only be described as an excellent whole. This main feature comes in interactive (something like a simple but well-implemented choose your own adventure thingy) and non-interactive flavors and covers the genesis, rise, fall and current evolution of the genre.
[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRhbcDzbGSU[/youtube]
But you think I’m over-reacting, don’t you? Well, I could be, though the truth is that Get Lamp is very well shot, masterfully presented and quite extensive in its coverage. It also sports some amazing production values, filling two DVDs with hours of greater and smaller features and featurettes, comes in a beautifully illustrated case (complete with a fantastic coin), features a written intro on text adventures by Scorpia, and even provides gamers with more than a few interactive fiction offerings and a variety of other digital goodies. Oh, yes, and everything is fully subtitled too.
Actually, the only thing lacking and my main gripe -both regarding the main feature and the tons of extras- is coverage of the European and generally non-US text adventure. Now, I do understand that traveling to Europe would have been far too costly, but the omission of Magnetic Scrolls, Level 9, Zenobi, Delta 4, Gilsoft and a variety of other classic publishers and developers was quite a bit disappointing, especially as Get Lamp is such an immensely enjoyable and frankly brilliant offering.
To grab your own copy of Get Lamp, simply follow this very link to its official website. Anyone ever interested in interactive fiction will simply have to own the thing.