The Legend of the Red Dragon

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Cover screen to the Legend of The Red Dragon BBS

Before the rise of the world wide web, there was an internet system created years before that people across the world used to connect with one another. This system was accessed through local networks and had shared files, news information, and allowed people to talk to each other through a screen. People used these systems to play online games, roleplay with other users, and learn more information about computers. This pre-historic internet system was called a Bulletin Board System or BBS for short. These systems were connected over local telephone lines and all you would have to do to connect was dial the number that corresponded with the system you wanted to get on. These systems remained mainly local due to the cost of long-distance phone calls which allowed for these BBS creators to really get specific with their target marketing. According to Jeff Driscoll’s, The Modem World, “BBSing remained an exclusively local activity. Callers seeking special-interest boards may have been more inclined to pay a long-distanced fee then those who just wanted a general-interest chat”. This quote proves that only the people who wanted to pay the extra fees could use the long-distance systems which is why BBSes were looked at as such a privilege. Eventually, prices were lowered which allowed some BBSes to grow popularity around the country.

The bulletin board system that I choose to research was The Legend of the Red Dragon. The Legend of the Red Dragon was an extremely popular BBS during the 1990s that was a gaming-based system created by Seth Robinson at the young age of 14. The first version of the game was released in 1989 on local BBSes where the goal of the game was to keep increasing in skill until you could eventually stop the red dragon which was attacking a village. However, before the game took off, Robinson’s BBS was just an online chatting and flirting system until he made the necessary changes to help his system thrive. There was even a point at the high of its popularity that the system saw over 1,000,000 users per day. Robinson also incorporated some roleplaying and romance into his game in order to gain more players. The mixture between action and romance was exactly what players wanted and led to extreme successes for Robinson and the BBS. According to Charles Herold of the New York Times, “As impressive as all that is, my favorite online role-playing game is still Legend of the red dragon, or LORD, a text-only game that was popular years ago on computer bulletin boards”.  This quote reiterates just how popular this game was at a point in time that people still remember it and occasionally play years after. The game ended up being such a hit, Robinson even came out with a sequel, LORD II, which he released in 19992. A few years acter LORD II’s release, Robinson ended up selling his LORD franchise to Metropolis Game port and cashed out on his popular BBSes.

The culture and identities associated with the Legend of the Red Dragon relate to much of the gaming population of the public, as well as young adults. Robinson himself, was just a 14-year-old boy at the time he created this system, meaning that he probably based his game off things that he enjoyed. The culture of the game seems like a very teenage friendly environment with a mix of young adult users. The LORD game fits perfectly into what teens and young adults are looking for as it is action packed and filled with romance. But this BBS is still attractive to the older more middle-aged group of people because they are just starting to explore the online world and could start using these systems for work related tasks. I really do believe that this game could have so many different positives that you could take away. Whether you get more computer savvy, start an online relationship, or just have a good time playing with friends, LORD is the ultimate BBS game. It really challenges you to see how good you can possibly be while providing you with intimate relationships with other online players or npc characters. Also, the price of personal computers and in home internet connects decreased drastically making it more available for the everyday person. With more people being able to use these devices, the BBS systems started to skyrocket. According to Judith Beck from The New York Times, “Why such growth? It certainly has helped that the prices of personal computers and high-speed modems have fallen drastically. But the real force seems to be that people are inherently curious and sociable”.  Basically, the article is just stating that the people of the late 1980s and early 1990s were the perfect group of people to target the BBS systems to due to their sociability and strong desire to use computer systems. Overall, BBSes increased the livelihood of all people who used the system. Before this system was created, there was no such thing as the internet, no such thing as texting a friend, and no such thing as online information. Due to the creation of BBSes, the world wide web was able to form and grow into what it is today.


Berck, and JUDITH . “All About/Electronic Bulletin Boards; it’s no Longer just Techno-Hobbyists Who Meet by Modem.”New York Times, Jul 19, 1992. ProQuest,

Berck, and JUDITH . “All About/Electronic Bulletin Boards; it’s no Longer just Techno-Hobbyists Who Meet by Modem.”New York Times, Jul 19, 1992. ProQuest

Driscoll, Kevin. The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media. Yale University Press, 2022. 

Bailey, Kat. “The Rpgs That Made Us: Legend of the Red Dragon.” Rock Paper Shotgun, Rock Paper Shotgun, 10 Feb. 2021, 

“Legend of the Red Dragon.” Legend of the Red Dragon – Break Into Chat – BBS Wiki, 

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