The NY Times is running a story about Dwarf Fortress,
an independently produced, ASCII-rendered fantasy game
that thrives on its own uniqueness and has influenced countless other game developers (and runs on Linux). Quoting:
"Though it may seem ungainly at first, the game’s interface — rendered in what are known as extended ASCII characters — has a sparse elegance. As seasons change, trees, represented by various symbols, shift from green to yellow. Goblins’ eyes appear as red quotation marks; if you shoot out an eye with an arrow, the symbol becomes an apostrophe. On a message board, one fan likened the ASCII experience in Dwarf Fortress to the immersive pleasures of reading a book: 'You can let your imagination fill in the gaps.' The community that has arisen around Dwarf Fortress is remarkable. Fans maintain an extensive wiki, which remains the game’s best (and, effectively, only) instruction manual, and which even Tarn and Zach admit to consulting. ... Perhaps most fascinating are the stories that fans share online, recounting their dwarven travails in detailed and sometimes illustrated narratives. In a 2006 saga, called Boatmurdered, fans passed around a single fortress — one player would save a game, send the file to another player and so on, relay-race style — while documenting its colorful descent into oblivion."