Dunnet (video game)

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Developer(s) Ron Schnell
Genre(s) Text adventure

Dunnet is a surreal, cyberpunk[1] text adventure written by Ron Schnell, based on a game he wrote in 1982[2]. The name is derived from the first three letters of dungeon and the last three letters of Arpanet[citation needed]. It was first written in Maclisp for the DECSYSTEM-20, then ported to Emacs Lisp in 1992.[3] Since 1994 the game has shipped with GNU Emacs;[4] it also has been included with XEmacs.[5]

The game has been recommended to writers considering writing interactive fiction.[6]

Modern versions[edit]

Dunnet is playable on any operating system with the Emacs editor.[7] Emacs comes with most Unices, including macOS and distributions of Linux. Several articles targeted to Mac OS X owners have recommended it as an easter egg as a game that can be run in Terminal.app.[8][9] It can be run by running emacs -batch -l dunnet in a shell or the key sequence M-x dunnet within Emacs, the former being the preferred and official way to run it.[10] Dunnet was used as a benchmark in the effort to port Emacs Lisp to Guile, progressing from running standalone games[11] to running the entire Emacs system in less than a person-year of work.[12]


The game starts out like most text adventures, with the player standing at the end of a dirt road, but it turns to the surreal when players realize that they are actually walking around inside a Unix system, and teleporting themselves around the Arpanet. There are many subtle jokes in this game, and there are multiple ways of ending the game.


  1. ^ "There Is A Surreal Cyberpunk Adventure Game Built Into OS X That You Never Knew About". 
  2. ^ "Original 1982 Dunnet predecessor found in MIT archives". 
  3. ^ Ron Schnell (1992-07-28). "dunnet - text adventure for e-lisp". 
  4. ^ Richard M. Stallman (1994). "GNU Emacs Manual". p. 314. M-x dunnet runs an adventure-style exploration game, which is a bigger sort of puzzle [compared to the other puzzle-games that ship with GNU Emacs]. 
  5. ^ Ben Wing. "A Tour of XEmacs". Archived from the original on 2000-06-19. Retrieved 2015-07-27. Most of the actual editor functionality is written in Lisp and is essentially an extension that sits on top of the XEmacs core. XEmacs can do very un-editorlike things; for example, try running XEmacs using the command xemacs -batch -l dunnet. 
  6. ^ "Interactive Fiction – An introduction (updated)". Archived from the original on 2015-08-23. 
  7. ^ "Dunnet". A text adventure that is built into almost every copy of the Emacs text editor. 
  8. ^ "Play an 'old-school' adventure game". 
  9. ^ "Discover the Text-Based Adventure Game Built Into Your Mac's Terminal". 
  10. ^ Dunnet help command: "NOTE: This game *should* be run in batch mode!"
  11. ^ "Guile Scheme Emacs-Lisp Compatibility Matures". 
  12. ^ "Re: Emacs Lisp's future". 

External links[edit]