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Publisher(s)Electronic Arts
Ariolasoft (Europe)
Designer(s)David Maynard[1]
Platform(s)Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64
Genre(s)Software toy
Mode(s)Single player

Worms? is a computer game written by David Maynard and published by Electronic Arts in 1983 for the Atari 8-bit family and Commodore 64.[1] It is one of the five initial titles from the company.[2] More a software toy than a game, Worms? is an interactive version of Paterson's Worms. Maynard later worked on the 8-bit word processor from Electronic Arts, Cut & Paste.


The game is abstract, like Conway's Game of Life, but the player's ostensible goal is to optimally program one or more "worms" (each a sort of cellular automaton) to grow and survive as long as possible. The game area is divided up into hexagonal cells, and the worms are essentially programmed to move in a particular direction for each combination of filled-in and empty frame segments in their immediate vicinity. Over the course of a game, the player needs to give his/her worm less and less input, and more and more moves by their worm result in the encountering of a familiar situation for which the worm has already been "trained". As the worms move, they generate aleatoric music.


Orson Scott Card in Compute! in 1983 gave Worms? and two other EA games, M.U.L.E. and Archon: The Light and the Dark, complimentary reviews, writing that "they are original; they do what they set out to do very, very well; they allow the player to take part in the creativity; they do things that only computers can do".[3] Compute!'s Gazette's reviewer called Worms? for the Commodore 64 "one of the most fascinating games I've played in a long time. It's so different from anything else that it quickly captivated me. Worms? tournaments become popular among the staff of Compute! ... [It] is as much fun to watch as it is to play". He added that part of its appeal was that "The game is hard to master. It's easy to play, but seems almost impossible to play well time after time".[4] Compute! listed the game in May 1988 as one of "Our Favorite Games," writing that four years after its introduction "Worms? is still in a class by itself", requiring "a sense of strategy as well as proficiency at joystick maneuvers".[5]


  1. ^ a b "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers". dadgum.com.
  2. ^ Corriea, Alexa Ray (May 21, 2013). "30 years ago Electronic Arts shipped its first batch of five games". Polygon.
  3. ^ Card, Orson Scott (November 1983). "Home Computer Games Grow Up". Compute!. p. 162. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  4. ^ Keizer, Gregg (June 1984). "Worms? For The 64". Compute!'s Gazette. pp. 66–70. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Our Favorite Games". Compute!. May 1988. p. 12. Retrieved 10 November 2013.

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