Little Computer People

Huh, they have little people inside computers now.

Source // C64 Wiki

Can't lie, but an early version of The Sims was not what I had in mind when imagining what Little Computer People would be. An adventure game I could see, but not the kind of adventure that's on offer.

Upon loading the game, a randomly generated man will walk into his new house, wandering through the rooms for a few minutes while getting used to his surroundings, eventually settling enough to interact with you - if you're polite about it.

I was not expecting any of that, so this should be interesting.


Unfortunately I've not yet gotten the chance to play Little Computer People for myself, but the gameplay in the video above gives you all the overview you need while not spoiling the depths of what is on offer.

I say 'gameplay', but it really is more of an interactive experience. Your little computer person is your little computer person, generated from the serial key of the disk you're running the game off (although other versions and ports had different methods of generating people). He's got a dog and he wants you to look after them both, though he is largely self-sufficient.

He'll go about his day reading books, watching TV, listening to the record player, playing the piano and so on, but you can always ask him to mix things up. Maybe you want to see him dance, or play a different song. Maybe you need to tell him to feed the dog. From time to time you'll definitely want him to write you a letter, because it's one of the few direct ways of learning what he needs at any given point.

Through the medium of text, he'll point out his status and what he wants to do, giving you ideas of what activity to do next. His mood will change over time, and if you start forgetting to feed him he'll start to turn green - not like the Incredible Hulk, just generically sick.

It's like a strange cross between a fish tank and a Tamagotchi, and there's no winning - except for a game of cards, if you want to go head to head against your little computer person. Win too often and he'll want cheering up though.

Fun Times

It doesn't sound like it makes for a terribly interesting game at first, but over the course of video game history we've seen weird little things like this keep peoples attention for far longer than they perhaps should.

I can imagine - if such a thing hasn't happened already - a 24/7 live stream of this game. It's perfect. Something to have on in the background while you're doing something else. Little Computer People was imagined as a way to bring out and visualise the little computer person that lives inside your computer. Those ten minutes of him roaming about the house before you play links in with that idea; that he's been coaxed out of the circuit board and is slowly familiarising himself with his new surroundings.

It's not a game, it's a distraction, and there's nothing wrong with some distractions now and again. What words does he recognise? How will he treat you if you drop the 'please' from your commands? Isn't it weird that there's this man happily going about his life as he see's fit, but that you can butt into at any point and just make him do things?

Final Word

I had no idea a game like this existed, and in some sense I think it's better than everything that it inspired - except the fact that there's no game here, perhaps. There are a fair few views on what people consider to be a game or not, but Little Computer People - while definitely worth checking out - needs to make some really good arguments for its inclusion on the 1001 Video Games list.

I do want to play it for myself. Experience it for myself. This Gaming PC does need a character. It feels a little bland, an little empty. It's just a machine. Fire up Little Computer People and it could become so much more. For about half an hour, until it starts playing the same silly song over and over again. Who knows?

I won't be 'playing' it like I played the last game or will play the next, but it may well end up being left on and running longer than both.

Fun Facts

The Japanese version preferred to use a female computer person, but was limited in its feature set.

Little Computer People, developed by Activision, first released in 1985.
Version watched: C64, 1985 (DerSchmu)