Though Bandersnatch has nothing really to do with the game or Imagine – which was left incomplete when the company went bust and was later released by another company under the name of Brataccas – Brooker and his co-writer Annabel Jones were clearly influenced by their work, or at the very least, the advertising that surrounded it.
The game was originally referenced in Black Mirror season three episode Playtest, as a cover line on a magazine called Edge. Small, but evidently significant.
Find out everything you need to know about the game below.
Is Bandersnatch a real game?
Yes. Brooker seems to have been inspired by a computer game called Bandersnatch, which was in development at a Liverpool-based studio called Imagine before being retooled and repackaged under the name Brataccas by another studio called Psygnosis.
Imagine was a video game start-up that was founded in 1982, rising to prominence predominantly for its ability to hype up its products and “megagames”, before folding in 1984 due to mounting debts. It appears that they promised a lot more than they were ever able to deliver – and Bandersnatch was one such promise that never came to fruition. It was one of their proposed “megagames”, games which were to push the boundaries of the gaming hardwire of the era. A documentary on the rise and fall of Imagine aired on the BBC, and is on YouTube.
Poster for ‘Bandersnatch’ the game, a project which never saw the light of day — the game was developed in 1984, the same year ‘Bandersnatch’ the Black Mirror episode takes place (which we know as a set photo shows Bob Marley’s ‘Legend’ at #1 on the charts inside a record store) pic.twitter.com/SlzbERQHuR
In Brataccas (which was available on the Atari ST, Amiga and Macintosh) the user controls a character called Kyne, a genetic engineer in a dystopian universe who is framed for treason by his oppressive government, and is forced to flee earth for an asteroid called Brataccas. So, nothing like Brooker’s nightmarish, interactive film, then.
No, it isn’t. The book in the film, a choose-your-own adventure novel, is written by murderous author Jerome F Davies, who, thankfully, also does not really exist. There is a book called Bandersnatch, but it’s about the creative collaboration between CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, and there’s nothing interactive about it.
Where does the word “Bandersnatch” come from?
The word originates from Lewis Carrol’s Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There – as the name of a “fabulous looking animal”. It pops up in the poem, Jabberwocky, and the verse goes as follows:
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
In the Oxford English dictionary, Bandersnatch is defined as “a fierce mythical creature immune to bribery and capable of moving very fast”. Might have something to do with that terrifying creature that appears briefly in a dream sequence in one part of the film, then…