Personal Computer Museum, Canada's Videogame Museum



Floppy (5.25")1



0  51051  01304  4

Release Date: 2/12/1987
Manufacturer: Infocom
Donated By: Eric Robson
Bureaucracy is an interactive fiction computer game released by Infocom in 1987, scripted by popular comic science fiction author Douglas Adams. It is Infocom's twenty-fourth game.

The player is challenged to confront a long and complicated series of bureaucratic hurdles resulting from a recent change of address. Mail isn't being delivered, bank accounts are inaccessible, and nothing is as it should be. The game includes a measure of simulated blood pressure which rises when "frustrating" events happen and lowers after a period of no annoying events. Once a certain blood pressure level is reached, the player suffers an aneurysm and the game ends.

While undertaking the seemingly simple task of retrieving misdirected mail, the player encounters a number of bizarre characters, including an antisocial hacker, a paranoid weapons enthusiast, and a tribe of Zalagasan cannibals. At the same time, he or she must deal with impersonal corporations, counterintuitive airport logic, and a hungry llama.

According to Adams, the premise of the game was inspired by a real-life experience. Before moving from one address to another in London, Adams filled out several change-of-address forms, including one he submitted in person at his bank. Shortly after settling into his new apartment, he found that his credit card no longer worked. The bank had invalidated his current card and sent a new one to his old address. Adams spent weeks trying to get the bank to correct its mistake, filling out several new forms and talking to several bank officials. The bank finally sent a letter apologizing for the inconvenience; naturally, it was sent to his old address.

Although Bureaucracy showed the unmistakable signs of Adams' humor, the game didn't sell nearly as well as his other collaboration with Infocom, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This may be, at least in part, because Infocom was facing grave financial difficulties in 1987. The recent failure of its relational database product Cornerstone was one reason for these difficulties. Advertising budgets were being slashed and personnel from all departments of the company were facing layoffs.

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