Role-playing games are distributed in various digital & non-digital formats AFAIK. What was the world's first computer RPG? It was written from scratch or was an adaption of a pen-and-paper RPG?

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    Define RPG for this. After all, even Chess can be seen as such.
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 0:01
  • I am asking about role-playing video games, also named computer roleplaying games. Also i am asking about RPGs that use game systems like GURPS and D20 (but will probably pre-date these systems) Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 0:04
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    You still need to define (C)RPG for this. After all, you are asking about the first, which means at that time the definition wasn't canonical, so it's all about the criteria you want to apply.
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 0:23
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    Dunjonquest maybe. Did you not find this.
    – Tomas By
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 1:14
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    Akalabeth: World of Doom (precursor of Ultima), also from 1979, is oft cited as the first CRPG. Apple II, and then a DOS version.
    – Brian H
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 1:23

2 Answers 2


There are three early RPG-style computer games which vie for the title of “first RPG”: Rusty Rutherford’s pedit5, Gary Whisenhunt and Ray Wood’s Game of Dungeons (aka dnd), both on the PLATO, and Don Daglow’s Dungeon on the PDP-10. All three were available in 1975, and all three were at least inspired by, if not based on, paper-based games (particularly TSR’s Dungeons & Dragons).

In 1975 such games weren’t even known as RPGs yet; TSR started describing Dungeons & Dragons as a role-playing game in 1977 (second edition), and that’s when programmers started using the term for their adaptations.

Rutherford and Daglow explicitly name Dungeons & Dragons as the inspiration for their implementations; Whisenhunt and Wood based their dnd on Dungeons & Dragons too, with the addition of lessons from pedit5 (which means dnd can’t strictly speaking be considered the first such game), in particular its limited availability — since pedit5 competed for CPU time with other legitimate uses of PLATO, system administrators regularly deleted it when they found it; Whisenhunt and Wood however administered their own PLATO system, so they didn’t have to deal with administrators deleting dnd!

dnd introduced a number of features: it has the first “boss” (the dragon guarding the Orb which the player must steal), the first level design tool, the first character creation and progression system based on experience points, and increasing difficulty levels.

(Source: Raphaël Lucas’ L’histoire du RPG, Éditions Pix’n Love, 2014.)

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    Point of interest: Dungeons & Dragons is always (and has always been) stylized with the ampersand, rather than with “and” written out. Even in contexts that block the ampersand for technical reasons (e.g. URLs), the abbreviation n (as in Dungeons ‘n’ Dragons) is used.
    – KRyan
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 20:49

It's not the earliest, but:

There was a BASIC game listed for the Kim-1 that involved hiking through a forest, avoiding monsters, listed in a magazine. I typed it into a friend's VIC-20 sometime around 1981 (and had to edit it down, since the game was 4K and the VIC only had 3.5K RAM).

Adventurer, check. Wilderness, check. Monsters and peril, check.

And it was D&D inspired.

So it might straddle the fuzzy line between "adventure" game and RPG.

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