I used to think this short film from SNL was a dream I had once. But no, it’s real.
It is a poker-faced mockumentary about the dangers of the growing obsession of video games by youngsters of 1982. It is also a pitch-perfect indictment of the hysteria swirling around the pastime, drummed up by the news media to create a new boogeyman to scare adults. It’s 11:00 o’clock. Do you know where your children are? On the street corner, apparently, turning tricks for quarters to put into Dig Dug.
Made by Claude Kerven, the short aired on the premiere episode of the 8th season of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, September 25, 1982. They sure don’t make them like this anymore. Not only is it a reminder of video games past, it is also a monument to how SNL used to be edgy and hilarious:
Currently looking for funding on Kickstarter is a documentary film project titled Heroes: The History of Sierra On-Line. The filmmakers have travelled the country securing footage and interviews with those involved, to tell the story of how Sierra On-Line helped revolutionize the PC game industry and created one of the best-loved genres in gaming history: the graphic adventure.
Now they need help in securing financing to assemble the film and polish it up in order to do justice to such a fascinating company and compelling story. You can kick in some cash at their Kickstarter page, here:
After the jump you can read an interview I conducted with co-producers of the project, Luke Yost and Patrick Clark: Continue reading →
The Japanese take video games seriously. So seriously, in fact, that the phenomena of the video game arcade, all but dead (but yes, enjoying a slow renaissance via “Barcade”-type venues starting to pop up) in Western culture, continues to thrive in Japan.
100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience is a indieGoGo-funded documentary covering the evolution of video arcade culture in Japan. It is a fast-paced thrill-ride through a dizzying and electric video game landscape, accompanied by the obsessed gamers, committed companies and manic games that make the Japanese market what it is. 100 Yen is available on DVD now, and looks to be well-worth dropping some coin for.
Perhaps you’re like me, and one of the very first gaming experiences you had on a computer was a text adventure.
Sometimes a person is lucky enough to have a first experience, a first taste of something, that is so amazingly, compellingly good that it forever shapes how they think about that thing. For me, that first thing was Infocom‘s Zork, and it gave me a lifelong love of computers and gaming.
The text adventure was a genre that ruled the landscape of early computer gaming, until advancing graphics technology inevitably supplanted text as the canvas for creating worlds on personal computers. GET LAMP, a documentary directed by Jason Scott, takes a close look at the genre, from its inception as Will Crowther‘s original cave-diving Adventure, to its perfection at Infocom, to its effective demise in the late 80’s and resurgence in the modern era as home-grown Interactive Fiction.
Box art for Zork I, Atari ST version
As the premiere text adventure company of the era, a particular light is shone on Infocom, producer of classics such as the aforementioned Zork games, Deadline, Suspended, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… the list is exhaustive. Interviews of those involved are numerous and informative, and form a captivating narrative about the company and what it was like to work there. It’s fascinating to hear the founders and game designers talk about how they were convinced they were on the cusp of creating a new type of literature that would stand the test of time. Now we look back with 20/20 vision and it seems so obvious that the writing was on the wall for Infocom even as it began making games, that inherent in the very idea of text adventure computer games is the seed that will sow the company’s destruction. It was inevitable that game designers, inspired by Infocom games, would eventually want to move on from monochromatic text and turn the lights on to see what is actually there. As well, hobbyist IF writers and players also feature in segments that highlight the fact that text adventures have survived and thrived after the demise of Infocom. Be sure to keep an eye out for a secret item in these interview segments.
Call them text adventures, or adventure games, or the more grandiose interactive fiction, these types of games created entire worlds only with words on a screen. GET LAMP brightly illuminates the forgotten dark corners, hallways and caverns of these worlds and the people who crafted them. Good thing too, because you don’t want to end up reading these words: