we often talk like the history of indie games begins in the 2000s with japanese and white american men. that couldn’t be farther from the truth. one d.i.y. game-making community, based around a text-mode shareware game-making tool released in 1991, was the creative stomping ground of a bunch of young trans women. which is why it’s equally funny when people talk about how suddenly there seem to be so many trans women in game-making. ZZT is a written history and a personal history of ZZT, as a game, as a tool, and as a community. you can think of it as a prequel to rise of the videogame zinesters.
ZZT is an excavation of a submerged continent. it’s – well, you can read the back cover description on the website. it feels like a book i was waiting to write for twenty years. when gabe contacted me, asking if i’d be interested in his boss fight books project – a series of books by different authors, each about a single game – i immediately thought, jill of the jungle! then i thought, actually, ZZT.
thanks to gabe for supporting the writing of the book and being a great editor and publisher. thanks to the people who read my unfinished manuscript and had encouraging things to say about it, including jeanne thornton, jetta rae, merritt kopas and bee flowers. and thanks to the many many people i interviewed for the book – some of whom responded to my call for interviews, some of whom i tracked down myself. i tracked down the creators of my favorite game when i was eleven and talked to them about that game. it was a pretty incredible experience.