Mapping on the Micro: Histories of Level Editors

This week I’m flying to Montreal to present a paper at the Game History Annual Symposium titled, “Mapping on the Micro: an alternative history of level editors in 1980s Britain”.

The paper has changed a bit from the original abstract I submitted (as is often the case with these things). I will mainly be focusing on the Repton games released on the BBC Micro (mainly Repton 3 and Repton Infinity). A few years ago when clearing out the loft, I found the maps we printed of Repton levels in the late 1980s. These were ones released with the game, but I also remember creating my own levels with the game editor. Some of the abstract for the talk is as follows:

“Drawing on Huhtamo’s (2011) media archaeological framework of tracing ‘alternative histories’, alongside recognition of the materiality and use of each platform, this paper traces the histories of level editors in games created for the BBC Micro primarily focusing on the Repton series (Superior Software, 1985-1990). In doing so these examples will be situated in a wider context of home game creation, software modification and copying within the 1980s focusing primarily on practices within the UK at this time. Whereas current writing about fan practices and user-generated content by players focuses on the online possibilities of creating and sharing, this paper recognises these practices inherent in offline spaces, such as the computer club. Using case studies from magazine articles and reviews the concept of player as producer and the role of user-generated content will be re-examined as a way of exploring another facet of this history.”

repton3map_web

As a side note, I also did a bit of consultancy on the accompanying exhibition about ZX Spectrum games (which as another little project finally forced me to modify one of our Spectrums to take a composite video signal using this great article here: http://www.retroisle.com/sinclair/zxspectrum/Technical/Hardware/speccy_composite_mod.php)  The results of that are here:

SpectrumCompMod