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Beneath the Flesh of Walls: The Making of Sierra's 'Mystery House'


Laine Nooney (Assistant Professor, New York University)

Location: Room 2016, West Hall

Date: Thursday, March 22

Time: 3:00pm - 3:30pm

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Conference, GDC Summits, Expo Plus, Expo, Audio Conference + Tutorial, Educators Summit, Indie Games Summit - Get your pass now!

Topic: Advocacy

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

Roberta Williams didn't like computers. Ken Williams didn't really care about games. So how did this couple go on to design and program 'Mystery House', the first graphical adventure game for the home computer and one of the most iconic pieces of computer entertainment software of the early 1980s? This game history-centric talk answers that question through a deep dive into the technical process, domestic context, and creative collaboration that gave birth to 'Mystery House'. Showcasing a range of original documents and interviews, this talk will offer a fresh, mature perspective on this famed, but often misunderstood, game and how it was a key influence in titles that followed.


Attendees will gain historical insight and knowledge on a canonical American game, learn about the story of design and technical collaboration that brought it to life, and take a deep dive into the what it was like at the dawn of the computer game age.

Intended Audience

This talk is for anyone and everyone with a passion for learning about video gaming's many pasts. It is appropriate for all levels of industry professionals, as well as teachers, journalists, students and fans.