John Demjanjuk is on trial in Israel for Nazi-era war crimes, the Herald of Free Enterprise capsizes in Zeebrugge, The Simpsons premiere on The Tracey Ullman Show, Mathias Rust lands a small plane on Red Square, Ronald Reagan challenges Mikhail Gorbachev to Tear down this wall!, war criminal Klaus Barbie is sentenced to life, Fiji becomes a republic, a pirate dressed like Max Headroom interrupts the broadcast of two Chicago television stations, and Time Warp Productions produces The Great Giana Sisters, quite possibly the greatest ever platform game created for the Commodore64.
The year is 1987. And, I’m playing video games.
Fast forward to 2020.
On the 29th of September, the Chronotopic Cartographies project and The British Library organise MAPPING SPACE | MAPPING TIME | MAPPING TEXTS, an online conference on the digital visualisation of space and time for fictional works that have no real-world correspondence.
I was intrigued, signed up, but failed to attend the sessions, in part due to the somewhat challenged required use of Microsoft Teams and Gather.town, and in part due to the keynotes arousing my curiosity, perhaps, but not enough of my interest.
But, going over the conference’s poster exhibition, COVID-19 conveniently responsible for making the collection available online, I thought several of the submissions, essentially mapping fictional, but also real, worlds, featured in a range of fictional works, were quite interesting, marvelling at what pleasure it must be to have the funding available to make sometimes almost pointless maps of perhaps obscure fictional work.
One of these posters discusses the effect of the fog gate randomiser mod on game space (yes), in a game called Dark Souls, which, released in 2011, is from after my gaming days.
Going over this poster triggered a distant memory. A lifetime ago, I mapped the complete Giana Sisters world, all 33 levels, and sent the result off to the popular British gaming magazine ZZAP!64.
ZZAP! published the guide, making me proud, and sending me a bunch of video games, including the popular title Hawkeye, by the Dutch collective Boys Without Brains.
A short trip down memory lane allowed me to discover that ZZAP!64 issues are available online, fully digitised, via the Internet Archive. And, yes, issue 42 has my full walkthrough, a complete mapping of the video game The Great Giana Sisters for the Commodore64.
I had almost forgotten that my interest in creating digital topologies has a long history.