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The game rogue was the first of its kind, giving rise to a number of other games considered roguelike in that they were keyboard-controlled role-playing games using the same keybindings. Editors such as vi and its descendants also adopted the navigation keybindings.

It is a solitare turn-based game of cave exploration, in which the player's avatar encounters pet animals, wild animals, monsters, shops, treasure, magic items, cursed items, armor, weapons, artifacts, booby-traps, hidden doors, etc., and must deal with them skillfully to survive to the end.