Call in phone games?
May 19, 2016 5:35 AM   Subscribe

When I was a kid, I would play these Choose Your Own Adventure style games that you played by dialing a phone number and then pressing numbers on the keypad to make choices. Is there anyway I can hear these games again?

The time was the early 90s. The ones I played mostly had horror or sci-fi themes with titles like "Ghost Hunters." If I recall correctly you played them for a bit and then they'd tell you to call back next week for the next installment, but my memory on the actual content is hazy. The numbers and titles were all listed in the newspaper (the News and Observer for me, but I can't imagine it was just them), and I assume they must have been free or my parents would never have let me call in.

I'm 100% sure these existed, but sadly recent developments in what "phone games" means is making it hard to Google. I'd love to be able to listen to them again, but barring that, I'd be happy to read something about them; I really loved them.
posted by Bulgaroktonos to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This looks like an example: F.I.S.T. (more) (more) (more). There is a video in that Guardian article, but it's broken.

That UK 0898 number suggests this one at least definitely wasn't free (probably rather expensive e.g. 25p/min!)
posted by firesine at 5:54 AM on May 19, 2016

I remember these! We played one called "Wizard World," and if you selected the wrong option the prerecorded voice would say "BAD MOVE!" in a hilariously overdramatic tone. We were N&O subscribers in the early 90s too.

I seem to recall them being local numbers rather than toll-free, so possibly the ones we remember were only available in our area? I can't dig up anything more about them.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:04 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I played these too! They were free in my area as part of the local "Info Line," where you could also call for the headlines, time, weather, horoscopes, local events, reminders of the homework each day (seriously! every teacher for every school in the area had to record this EVERY DAY!), teen advice, all kinds of stuff. There were probably things more geared towards adults too, but as a young teen myself, this is what I remember..

Not helpful, but I do specifically remember a ghost hunting game and a wizard game.
posted by srrh at 7:18 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

The recent BBC radio documentary Skill, Stamina and Luck (37:30–40:30), on the history of interactive fiction talks about phone in games, specifically F.I.S.T., although you won't be able to listen to it outside the UK.

Apparently you can try it out via this interactive version but I've not tried it yet.
posted by snarfois at 9:41 AM on May 19, 2016

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