'Hampstead': The social climbing game that has made the leap from ZX Spectrum to iPad
The text-based adventure game pokes fun at people who treat living in the fashionable north London suburb as the ultimate badge of social success
In an era of computer games dominated by Pac-Man and Space Invaders, Hampstead stood out as a test of people’s ability to social climb rather than use a joystick.
Thirty years after it was first played on the now obsolete Spectrum and Commodore 64 systems, the game’s creators now argue it was too ahead of its time to make them rich.
Hampstead was a text-based adventure game which asked players to climb as high up the social ladder as they could, simply by punching commands on their keyboards.
It was named after the wealthy and fashionable north London suburb, its creators said, because they wanted to poke fun at people who treated living there as the ultimate badge of social success.
Gamers looking for a slice of nostalgia – or simply to master a new life skill – can now play the game on their iPhone or iPad by downloading it from Apple’s App Store for free. Peter Jones, one of the game’s writers, told the Camden New Journal: “1984 was the high water mark of Thatcherism and the social aspiration that came with it. This, we felt, deserved to be mocked: hence the idea that you could ‘attain’ Hampstead as a sort of quasi-religious goal; a social and cultural nirvana.
“We were fans of Mike Leigh films like Nuts in May and Abigail’s Party, in which flawed and desperate people blunder about making a mess of their lives. So we wrote this ridiculous story in which the player blunders about and accidentally attains Hampstead. In other words, it was the least commercial idea you could possibly come up with. But for some reason, all the publishers wanted it. We were even voted Game of the Year by a magazine called The Listener.”
Mr Jones added that he wished he and his co-creator, Trevor Lever, had stuck at it. “Computer games are now created with feature-film budgets and earn more money than Hollywood movies. Ironically, what we had in mind when we did Hampstead was something filmic, but Tomb Raider was still 12 years away, and the technology just wasn’t available to us. That’s why we’re still poor.”
Players of Hampstead begin the game in a filthy council flat wearing only their underwear, but must rise from these humble beginnings to woo “Pippa, a beautiful model” and win a high-paid job in the City with which they can buy cars and a house on Hampstead Heath.
Mr Jones said: “I think we sold around 70,000 units overall and it was £10, which was high for a game at the time.”
Life & Style blogs
Dame Vivienne Westwood: The former Queen of Punk may now be an establishment pillar, but her work is still controversial – and much copied
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?
Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
Coke milk? Coca-Cola to launch premium milk brand called Fairlife
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
- 1 'Kidnapped boy may have been abused and murdered by VIP paedophile ring,' say police
- 2 Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...
£23000 - £27000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Server Enginee...
Negotiable: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly expanding, global Software/ SaaS Vendor ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum: h2 Recruit Ltd: After a highly successful 2014, a m...