Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

I recently read this book collection of interviews with early pioneers in the computing and video game industries. It’s derived from a series of YouTube interviews conducted by Neil Thomas of the RMC channel, but the book repackages the material, and adds additional details and content. It also includes some bonus interviews not available on YouTube.

The book is most likely to appeal to people interested in the home computing and video game industries of the 1980s and 1990s. There’s a high nostalgia element here, so anyone who grew up in the British home computing context then could find the book of interest. But it’s also a really interesting read from a more abstract historical viewpoint, charting changes during an era of innovation and creativity, especially in Britain, where a thriving 8-bit and late 16-bit home computer and games scene was powered largely by individual “bedroom coders”.

Most of those interviewed in the book are British, but there are also a good number of American interviewees. Many game developers and coders are interviewed, alongside artists, sound designers, and even a voice artist. Here is the full list:

• The Oliver Twins (British 8-bit pioneers)

• Al Lowe (Sierra, Video Game Developer)

• George ‘The Fat Man’ Sanger (Composer, Freelance/Lucas Arts)

• Bill Volk (Developer, Activision/Avalon Hill)

• Francois Lionet (Developer, STOS/AMOS)

• Stoo Cambridge (Artist, Sensible Software)

• Rob Hubbard (Composer, C64 Maestro/Electronic Arts)

• Mike Dailly (DMA, Grand Theft Auto/Lemmings)

• David Fox  (Developer, Lucas Arts)

• Jon St. John (Voice Over Artist, Duke Nukem 3D)

• Ken Silverman (Build engine)

• Chris Sawyer (Transport Tycoon, RollerCoaster Tycoon)

• Mark Ferrari (Artist, Lucasfilm Games, Zak McKracken)

• Richard ‘Lord British’ Garriott (Game Designer, Ultima series)

I jumped straight to the Rob Hubbard interview, as a huge fan of his Commodore 64 SID game music back in the 1980s, and then read the Mike Dailly interview about DMA Design and Lemmings (a Dundee story of course). But then I went back and read everything else in turn. All the interviews were interesting, including those about games and systems I was unfamiliar with. Good questions teased out interesting stories and memories, with additional text blocks and notes providing more details as appropriate. As a whole the book gives a rich insight into the computer games industry in the 1980s and 1990s in particular, and how it evolved.

I backed this book on Kickstarter, but it’s now available to buy directly from the RMC Store. The eBook version is a particular bargain at £4.99, including reflowable text eBooks for Kindle and ePub, as well as a PDF as printed file. Alternatively the hardback print copy is still available to buy from the RMC Store, and is a really nice comfortable sized book to hold and read (see the photo above showing the book beside a mug for scale), with high quality production values.

A thoroughly excellent read about a fascinating period of computer game history. Its subtitle is “Selected Interviews Vol. 1”. Hopefully more volumes will be forthcoming! In the meantime check out the associated YouTube channel.

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