Maze War is the grand-daddy of not only first-person shooters, but also networked multi-player games like World of Warcraft. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are mazes in WoW, Second Life etc, as they are the nursey-slopes for 3D environment creating. I doubt they feature highly in such games.

The persistence of mazes in the text adventure genre of computer games is due perhaps for two reasons. Mazes seem to have an affinity with things literary – they can be used metaphorically or as entities in a magical realist settings, in ways that wouldn’t cohere in more ‘realist’ graphically-oriented game. There is also the metaphor of ‘story as maze’ of which Borges ‘Garden of Forking Paths’ is the most well known.

More importantly, the genre just seems to attract game designers who like mazes as mazes, and as a historical ‘in joke’. In Graham Nelson’s Designer’s Manual he puts it bluntly: “it is designers who like mazes … players do not like mazes.” I would also go along with his description of mazes as the ‘locked room’ of text adventures. Provide a novel solution, and you please everyone.

So it goes that in modern text adventures, mazes in name and appearance only often have peculiar and map-free solutions:

* an unsolvable maze – you flip a crucial location through the FOURTH DIMENSION making it solvable
* hedge walls surround the maze centre – you go back in time and squeeze herbicide on a section of the not yet grown hedge
* a fantasy sequence stuck in an unending maze – you eventually notice you are a bird and fly out

Certainly that last one would be hard to implement in a graphical game.

Bonus links:

3D Monster Maze – you will need to refer to the ZX81 keyboard to find the ‘CONT’ key that starts the game.

“You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike” – the maze as decribed in the original text adventure

Updated bonus

A model of Knossus in the Herakleion Archaeological Museum

My pics| the worlds pics of Knossus on flick’r