Who coined the term "point-and-click adventure"?

Ron asks an interesting question on Twitter:

Has anyone an idea or further information?


Totally unrelated but he did coin “cutscene” though. :smile:


I was about to create this thread myself. :smiley:

So, what I know is that the expression “point and click” was already used back then as a general way to describe the method of interaction.

The real puzzle here is to discover who applied for the first time this expression to adventure games. I think that a research about this person/subject would yield poor results. But I’ll give a look…

What I have found so far is that the expression “point and click” and its variants were already used in several computer magazines.

That expression was later associated to games (non necessarily adventure games) to distinguish them from games that were played with a joystick or a keyboard.

Here is the first instance that I have found about “point and click” associated to the word “adventure”. I have also highlighted a few correlated expressions:

Computer Gaming World Issue 74, September 1990

Dynamix has two graphic “point and click” adventures that offer a unique new look. Blade Hunter: Rise of the Dragon features a film noir look at a dark future and Heart of China features a larger-than-life romantic adventure on a finely painted canvas of digitized pixels.

While “point and click” interfaces are under discussion, CIbiSoft’s B.A.T. also presents a dark futures with a fascinating graphic feel.

Lucasfilm’s Ron Gilbert (father of their graphic adventure interface) has teamed with artist Mark Ferrari (and others) to develop The Secret of Monkey Island, a romp through pirate lore with a look that is similar and a game that is bigger than Loom.

In the same issue of this magazine there is an advertising of Loom in which the expression “point n’ click actions” is used.

It seems that “point and click” was already associated to games, but only because in the same period the expression was generally used to describe any kind of software that used mouse as its main input method.


In the previous issue (July/August 1990) of the same magazine there is also this:

The Dynamix label uses 256 colors and VGA resolution in their Red Baron, Stellar 7 (an updated version of their classic, science fiction arcade adventure). Rise of the Dragon (a point and click interactive adventure) and Heart of China (a point and click adventure game in a different artistic style than Rise of the Dragon) games.

The main issue is that it doesn’t seem to me that this first usage of “point and click adventure” matches with what we today mean for “point and click adventure game”. While the text was already there, the meaning was different.

Edit: I have also found other examples of the expression “point and click adventure” in magazines published before 1990. It was a simple description of the input method.

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Is it possible they wanted to distinguish them from adventures with a parser and keyboard input (like Sierra agi)?

Yes, that’s exactly the meaning that the expression “point and click” had in those years: it was just a reference to the input method.

I assume that the current meaning of “point and click adventure game” (a specific kind of adventure games) arose only in the following years.

It’s fascinating for me to observe how language changes.

Ron retweetet this:

Yes, I have seen that. It’s still something related to the input device, not to the sub-genre of adventure games.

By today definitions, “The Manhole” could be considered a point-and-click adventure game only if we accept that Myst is a PnC adventure game.

Well, MM was called an “arcade adventure”, which seemed be a whole genre that was not getting a lot of releases back in 1987, according to this review in Zzap!64

And Zak was called an "action/adventure game"

Of course having to drive the cursor around using a joystick was a lot of arcade action right there!

By the time Indy3 rolled around, they mentioned “pointing and clicking”, but not yet as a description of the game genre.
(Page 40)

This 1990 review of MI mentions “point-and-click” . Still not adventure in the same sentense. (Although synonymous to Lucasfilm games)

Anyway, does it really matter who coined it and when? Who cares?
Oh… @RonGilbert does…

There is no answer for your question then. It would require not only finding actual uses of the term, but also verifying the author’s intent behind the phrase, which at this point is nearly impossible to do. Even if some writer decided to explicitly state the definition of the term in an article, they might only be doing so based on common usage of the word. Based on your other posts, it sounds like the term evolved over time, which means that it would have meant different things to different people until eventually common usage started pointing toward a common definition.

Let’s cut the bull?

For definition, “Point & Click adventure” is referred to The Secret Of Monkey Island, since this is the videogame used as a base reference for subsequent “Point & Click adventures”.
And this definition is retroactive, it’s valid also for Maniac Mansion and ZMKATAM.

Who conied the term? It was me.
(Now, show me evidence of the opposite! :ransome: )


Hmm… Seems legit.

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You can easily draw an analogue between the changing of the term and the way it was with movies.

In the late 70s and early 80s there were only adventure games like there were only movies in the early 20th century up to the late 20s. Then when Graphic Adventures came to make the distinction the old adventures were called Text Adventures just like when Talkies came along the old movies were dubbed Silent Movies. Just like Talkies the Graphic Adventures took over completly and the Text Adventures and Silent Movies almost dissapeared completly.

So a disctinctive term wasn´t needed anymore and the term Talkies was quickly dropped since all movies where talkies by the early 30s just like in the 90s the term graphic adventure became obsolete because there was not much else around to make a distiction with. But since Adventure games are a subgenre they needed to be more clearly defined and that´s probably when the catch-all term Point´n´Click came in.

In those days the “and” in game subgenres was very popular. Jump and Run(which for some reason are called Plattform games these days), Run and Gun etc. So the term perfectly fits in timeframe of the late 80s and early 90s because that´s where it makes most sense to have been introduced for the two reasons cited above.

Now I don´t really like it much because it makes it sound a bit simple and frankly a bit dull. But that´s what we´re stuck with now I guess.

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I think it was Mark Eteer who coined the phrase.

You know how it’s always marketing people trying to lump music or other art into “genres” so they can hang a sign on it and try to appeal to a certain audience.

Yes it´s like people only do things because they get paid…and that´s just really sad…


I like your observations, they make sense.


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Of course, that one and The Artist and that one episode of ALF…

Also when 3D games came up some shooters were also labelled as adventure games to differentiate them from other, more “mindless” 3D shooters, making the term “adventure game” more ambiguous then ever…

New evidence found!!
Since there is no mention of Indy3 in here, this puts us between November 1988 and May 1989!

Interestingly, they’re also called Story Games. And we are “story gamers”!
Sounds kinda posh, no?