Warren Spector has been at the forefront of videogames successfully elevating the medium and proving it’s unique capabilities. From Wing Commander to Epic Mickey he has had one of the longest and most prestigious careers in gaming and continues to work, to this day. He recognized from the onset gaming’s ability to involve the player and interact with the environment, setting him apart from the crowd as a story teller and overall game director.
What? Don’t believe me? That’s okay, you shouldn’t believe everything someone else on the internet says, but you should be watching his Youtube channel Gamedevthings. Where he has deep personal talks with fellow game developers. Another incredible contribution to the industry.
I went into these videos expecting to learn about the technical side of the business from the experts, but came out with so much more. I found myself surprisingly engaged in the lives of these developers from their successes in their lives to the the disappointing failures and challenges they faced through their careers. It was the human struggles and endearing stories told, such as the sole reason Windows has multiple monitor support was due to one man locking himself up in his office after his wife died of cancer. I still feel chills about this as I type it out.
Another mistake people can make is to only watch Richard Garriott’s interview (creator of Ultima), but the strongest interviews are with lesser known developers Harvey Smith and Seamus Blackley. These individuals have the most interesting stories because of their passion for making games, their successes, and the personal pitfall that practically destroyed their lives. And yet, it was because of these challenges that they went on to contribute to the industry in much bigger ways. Harvey Smith played a big part in the conception of the original Xbox, and Seamus Blackley became an agent for game developers such as Tim Schafer of Double Fine, doing his best to protect them from exploitation by investors and publishers.
At around 2 hours each it’s a daunting task but having taken the time over a period of months, I can honestly say they are worth watching to the end. With one exception; Mike Morhaime’s (President, Blizzard) interview. Where others got down to the nitty-gritty personal experiences, he treated it like it any other media interview; talking about the business. Very typical industry to consumer mouth flapping.
And if you watch them all, you can piece together Warren’s own story as the slow and steady turtle competing against hares. Perfectly outlining his ability to endure in the industry and continue making unique games such as Epic Mickey when his counterparts have drastically downplayed their roles in recent years.
These videos are historically important and the beauty is they are out in the wild for everyone to see, so take the time to watch them and share them with other gamers and non-gamers alike. You’ll experience the stories behind the games you played as kids (and as adults). I’m positive you’ll come to appreciate them even more.
A quick history of the music industry focused on Edgard Bronfman Jr. and the producers he picks up along the way. I found it intriguing to read how they squeezed every penny out of the music industry and then struggled to get a foot hold against the rising tide of the digital world. As much as I admire the tenacity of these people I still don’t feel any real empathy for them because ultimately their goal is the bottom line rather than supporting the artists. Enlightening and entertaining it’s worth borrowing to read in your spare time.
Witty and wickedly funny Marjorie James has written the cleverest short stories. As far as I can recall she’s the only writer who took me in on the first paragraph with her short The Trouble with Death Traps. With characters like: Znob(I hope I spelt that right(the only problem with audiobooks)) the best trap maker in the world without a sense of humor, a perky apprentice, and pesky priest clients she creates the funniest story ever set around a death trapped temple. On top of that, Stephen Eley’s cadence and character voices fit the story perfectly. With a decent sequel and another short Schrödinger’s Cat Lady she has become one of my favourite authors. So take a listen - especially if you’re not having the best day because she’ll have you chuckling in no time.
Chris Ware is a master of the comic medium. His art style whittles down characters and objects into the simplest shapes and forms then sets them out in the most complex designs and panels. Pick up any book by him and I can guarantee it will astound you how many ways he can design a page with the most basic elements of art. All to tell the same sad punchline. Every last panel is the same and practically every story leads to the same conclusion. To the point it becomes disappointing so much talent goes to waste writing and rewriting the same damn story, but is most telling of his skill. Even though I know exactly how each comic ends I would gladly pick up one of his books and try to deconstruct a page carefully noting where every: word bubble, panel, and line is placed because I want to understand its significance - then stop and leave the rest for another day because I don’t want to be bogged down by the depressing thoughts that plague his mind. All in all, anyone who plans to create comics or just enjoys the unique medium that is sequential storytelling should at least browse through one of his books to experience one of comics masters.
As an avid consumer of media and information it is almost impossible to retain any of it. So in a way this tumblr serves as a place to collect my thoughts and hopefully: create discussions, aggregate links to the best of the net, and introduce people to great content. So feel free to chime in if you have something to add to any of my crazy ramblings.