You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.
Thus begins the classic 1980 computer game known as Zork I. The player is suddenly thrust into this world, and given little direction. The possibilities are endless, and it turns out that the narrator understands English fairly well.
It occurred to me that someone’s response in this situation could serve as a psychological test of sorts. Like an inkblot, there’s not really a right answer, but your choice could reveal factors such as motivation, temper, patience, initiative, persistence, creativity, assertiveness, etc.
Left to your own devices, what would you do if you found yourself standing west of a white house, next to a small mailbox? (The following are all valid commands and actual responses from the game.)
>look at house
The house is a beautiful colonial house which is painted white. It is clear that the owners must have been extremely wealthy.
What do you want to walk?
You should supply a direction!
>walk to house
It’s right here! Are you blind or something?
>knock on door
I can’t see how to get in from here.
Kicking the door has no effect.
What do you want to hit the door with?
>hit door with hands
I’ve known strange people, but fighting a door?
>look at mailbox
The small mailbox is closed.
If you wish, but heaven only knows why.
I don’t think that the small mailbox would agree with you.
What a bizarre concept!
I’d sooner kiss a pig.
What do you want to burn the house with?
You are empty-handed.
>burn house with hands
With a pair of hands??!?
>destroy house with mailbox
Trying to destroy the white house with a small mailbox is futile.
>destroy mailbox with house
Trying to destroy the small mailbox with a white house is futile.
What do you want to kill the myself with?
>kill myself with hands
Suicide is not the answer.
What do you want to kill the troll with?
>kill troll with hands
You can’t see any troll here!
You are already standing, I think.
Go jump in a lake!
>jump in a lake
You can’t see any lake here!
Are you enjoying yourself?
Do you expect me to applaud?
Very good. Now you can go to the second grade.
What do you want to talk to?
>talk to house
You can’t talk to the white house!
>talk to myself
Talking to yourself is said to be a sign of impending mental collapse.
Such language in a high-class establishment like this!
Auto-cannibalism is not the answer.
>pick up mailbox
It is securely anchored.
>pick up house
You can’t be serious.
>pick up house
A valiant attempt.
What do you want to what?
>what is love
I don’t know the word “love”.
Kicking the small mailbox isn’t notably helpful.
Fiddling with the small mailbox doesn’t seem to work.
Opening the small mailbox reveals a leaflet.
“WELCOME TO ZORK!
ZORK is a game of adventure, danger, and low cunning. In it you will explore some of the most amazing territory ever seen by mortals. No computer should be without one!”
At your service!
A hollow voice says “Fool.”
What do you want to destroy the leaflet with?
>destroy leaflet with hands
Trying to destroy the leaflet with a pair of hands is futile.
What do you want to drop?
>drop all except leaflet
It’s not clear what you’re referring to.
You don’t have the you.
Nice weather we’re having.
>listen to myself
The you makes no sound.
You’ll have to speak up if you expect me to hear you!
It could very well be too late!
You’re around here somewhere…
You have lost your mind.
>look at myself
That’s difficult unless your eyes are prehensile.
It smells like a you.
Insults of this nature won’t help you.
I don’t know the word “don’t”.
Your score is 0 (total of 350 points), in 75 moves.
This gives you the rank of Beginner.
Do you wish to leave the game? (Y is affirmative?): >y
***END OF SESSION***