Basic Computer Games

It started when someone favorited this tweet by Katie Anderson. She created code for Wordle in the style of the Basic Computer Games book, complete with artifacts of a photocopier.

Wordle as computer code
Wordle code by Katie Anderson

The entire thread sparked a bunch of memories that involved that book, an old NEC computer and a very frustrated hunt and peck typer.

This tome had all the recipes to make BASIC computer programs. It could be as simple as a bouncing ball or full fledged game—all with text based interfaces and sprites that green and black monochrome monitors would support.

Thing is? You had to enter all these programs in manually, line by line with no mistakes. If you failed and were lucky, you’d be able to retrace the error and make adjustments. If you were lucky you’d see the screen come to life.

What didn’t sink in at the time, but like The Way to Play from the same era, this book would inform some sort of design sensibility that combined structured layouts, strong clean type and illustration.

Those chonky Gil Sans Ultra-bold titles. The illustrations by George Beker. So good.

📖 The entire book is available on the Internet Archive.

Interior spread of a computer programming book with the instructions to make games called Diamond and Dice
Diamond design and Dice game code