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Worms (1983) Commodore 64 Cover Art.jpg
EA's "album cover" box
Publisher(s)Electronic Arts
Ariolasoft (Europe)
Producer(s)Susan W. Lee-Merrow[1]
Designer(s)David Maynard[2]
Platform(s)Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64

Worms? is a software toy written by David Maynard for the Atari 8-bit family and Commodore 64.[2] Published by Electronic Arts in 1983, it was one of the five initial releases from the company.[3] Worms? is an interactive version of Paterson's Worms. Maynard later worked on the 8-bit word processor from Electronic Arts, Cut & Paste.

On March 17, 2021, the source code to Worms? was made available under the MIT License.[4]


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 the worm less and less input, and more and more moves by the worm results in the encountering of a familiar situation for which the worm has already been trained. As the worms move, they generate aleatoric music.


Allen Doum reviewed the game for Computer Gaming World, and stated that "Worms? can be played competitively, either by teams or individuals or can be used solitaire as a pattern drawing puzzle. Its sound and graphics are excellent, and some of the graphics elements and the speed of the game can be varied."[5] Orson Scott Card in Compute! gave complimentary reviews to the EA games Worms?, M.U.L.E., and Archon: The Light and the Dark. He said of the trio 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".[6]

Leo Laporte wrote in Hi-Res said that Worms? was "Very nice, very pretty, very boring ... I've been playing with this program for two weeks. It hasn't gotten any more interesting".[7] 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".[8]

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".[9]


  1. ^ @KaySavetz (March 8, 2021). "Mail's here" (Tweet). Archived from the original on March 9, 2021. Retrieved March 14, 2021 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ a b Hague, James. "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers".
  3. ^ Corriea, Alexa Ray (May 21, 2013). "30 years ago Electronic Arts shipped its first batch of five games". Polygon.
  4. ^ Savetz, Kay [@KaySavetz] (17 March 2021). "Thanks to [John Keoni Morris] we have recovered the source code for the Commodore 64 version of "Worms?" (Electronic Arts, 1983.) The creator, David S. Maynard, has released the code with a free software license. I recovered the Atari version last week" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 17 March 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2021 – via Twitter.
  5. ^ Doum, Allen (October 1983). "Atari Arena". Computer Gaming World. 1 (12): 43, 48.
  6. ^ Card, Orson Scott (November 1983). "Home Computer Games Grow Up". Compute!. p. 162. Retrieved 27 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ LaPorte, Leo G. (May–June 1984). "M.U.L.E." Hi-Res. p. 14. Retrieved 22 December 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Keizer, Gregg (June 1984). "Worms? For The 64". Compute!'s Gazette. pp. 66–70. Retrieved 6 July 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Our Favorite Games". Compute!. May 1988. p. 12. Retrieved 10 November 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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