Damiano Gerli

Gaming historian and freelance journalist Damiano Gerli was born with a faithful Commodore 64 by his side, where his love for obscure titles first developed. He has been writing a history about the Italian gaming industry, researching forgotten software houses to document their stories, before it’s too late. Damiano has been writing about video games for 25+ years, with no plans to stop in the future.

Xyzzy – the magic word that changed everything

FROG 2021 – Talk

Xyzzy was the first magic “spell” ever used in gaming, first appearing in 1976′ Colossal Cave Adventure (the first adventure game in history) as the “magic word”. The word would then later appear countless times, from other games to even applications like Gmail. Its role, in time, has changed, slowly evolving into something that works in a similar level to the number “42” in humorous sci-fi novels. A passkey of sorts, to be used to evoke a reaction from an Interactive fiction title, or even a simple easter egg. Later, considering how Colossal Cave Adventure shaped the adventure genre, magic would always remain an essential part of a genre which would refuse – time and time again – to be chained against the walls of reality. Even the very first graphical adventure game, Mystery House in 1980, would award the player the title of “guru wizard”, despite it being a murdery mystery. The talk would also focuse among other titles, on how magic – and especially magic users – were described and used in early adventure classics like Sierra’s famous King’s Quest or Quest for Glory series. Xyzzy and its slightly magical flavour would prove to be an essential ingredient for the genre, inspiring countless of other adventure games, even far removed characters like Simon the Sorcerer or the Voodoo Priestess in the Monkey Island series.


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