Caper in the Castro is a legendary video game, not because legions of die-hard fans continue to play it, but because it was thought to be lost forever. Now, what is largely considered to be the first LGBTQ-focused video game (it was released in 1989) is on the Internet Archive for anybody to play.
The game is a noir point-and-click that puts the player in the (gum)shoes of a private detective named Tracker McDyke who is, in case you couldn’t guess by the name, a lesbian. McDyke must unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of Tessy LaFemme, a transgender woman, in San Francisco’s Castro district, an historically gay neighbourhood.
Caper in the Castro was coded by a developer who goes by CM Ralph and spread through early message board systems, known as BBS boards. The game was originally released as “CharityWare,” and came with a short message from Ralph asking the player to donate to an AIDS charity. Since those early days, though, the game was thought to be lost and unpreserved for future generations to enjoy or appreciate. Until now.
On Wednesday, an emulated version of the game became playable on the Internet Archive. An emulation actually mimics the whole operating system of an 80s Macintosh, so you get the original experience, for the most part.
According to Jason Scott, an Internet Archive curator, the emulated version of the game on the site was imaged from the original floppy disks by Andrew Borman, Digital Games Curator at the Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. The floppies, previously thought lost, were found by the original author, CM Ralph, and sent to Borman by the efforts of Temple University professor Adrienne Shaw of the LGBTQ Game Archive.
It’s not often that such a treat lands in our collective laps, so enjoy!
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