The Life & Times of Video Games

The Life & Times of Video Games
Audio documentaries about the history and culture of video games
Soundbite: Scott Kim shares a few secrets of puzzle design
Feb 11 • 4 min
Legendary puzzle designer Scott Kim discusses the process and principles of puzzle-making for games. This is excerpted from an interview I conducted while researching my book The Secret History of Mac Gaming.Support The Life & Times of Video Games
Bonus: Game devs on the impact of the original Mac
Feb 2 • 63 min
For any of you who aren't aware, last week was the 35th anniversary of the release of the original Mac. I published a Medium article to celebrate the milestone, and here now you can listen to an audio version of that. It's 14 current and former game…
Episode 13 - Girl Games, Inc.
Nov 23, 2018 • 40 min
On the 90s girl games movement, and its assault on the status quo of the video game market, featuring Girl Games Inc founder and former filmmaker Laura Groppe. Support comes from my Patreon and PayPal backers, with special credit going to Wade Tregaskis,…
Episode 12 - Microsoft Games
Oct 31, 2018 • 35 min
Before something like the Xbox could ever hope to exist, Microsoft first needed to learn how to be a successful games publisher on the PC. This is the story — or part of it — of how Microsoft got games, featuring input from four key Microsoft Game Studios…
Soundbite: Spotting “the magic” (Jon Kimmich, ex-Microsoft Games)
Aug 31, 2018 • 5 min
I've been having some trouble finishing the script for episode 12, on Microsoft's pre-Xbox games efforts, so while you wait I thought I'd release some bonus material. First up, here's a new soundbite. This is from my interview with Jon Kimmich, who worked…
Episode 11 - Bomberman
Jul 19, 2018 • 20 min
On June 11th, 2018, character designer and artist Shoji Mizuno passed away. He was a key figure back in the 1990s at the now-defunct Hudson Soft, a renowned Japanese games publisher — having directed art or design, or sometimes both, on more than a dozen…
Episode 10 - Dogz
Jun 14, 2018 • 32 min
Frustrated by the unjustified furore that surrounded his tame interactive movie game, designer Rob Fulop turned to Santa for help. And with a clever business model he and his team at PF Magic invented a new kind of game, one in which you adopt and care…
Episode 9 - Midwinter
Mar 27, 2018 • 30 min
On the late Mike Singleton and the importance of Midwinter and The Lords of Midnight, his two great works. After switching from high school English teaching to professional game development in the 1980s, Mike quickly rose to the top of the industry. His…
Episode 8 - The Tomb Raider grid (part 2)
Feb 18, 2018 • 37 min
Continuing the story from Part 1, this is how the original Tomb Raider's grid-based engine/level editor impacted on the series, on Lara Croft's rise to fame, and on the shifting sands of blockbuster game development. This episode also discusses the place…
Episode 7 - The Tomb Raider Grid (part 1)
Dec 23, 2017 • 31 min
Every aspect of the original Core Design Tomb Raider series (and by extension the franchise's success post-Core) comes back to the grid that lies beneath it — the majority of the puzzles; the platforming; the cavernous chambers and ruins and outdoor areas…
Episode 6 - ROM Hack
Nov 11, 2017 • 37 min
At the dawn of emulation and the World Wide Web, a group of fans discovered the Nintendo and Super Nintendo games that never made it over from Japan. One of them decided to hack into a few of these and translate them, unofficially, with help from some…
[Soundbite] Mark Ferrari on gatekeepers and a cancelled X-Men game
Nov 3, 2017 • 11 min
The story of a cancelled X-Men TV controller game, as told by former LucasArts illustrator Mark Ferrari, who is a world-renowned and innovative pixel artist responsible for popularising multiple graphical techniques — including dithering, colour cycling,…
Episode 5 - FIFA 3DO
Oct 23, 2017 • 32 min
A story from the dawn of 3D sports games, and the forgotten link between the 16-bit isometric and 32-bit 3D EA Sports games — this is how FIFA 3DO transformed the way sport was represented in video games. Music Credits: Lee Rosevere - And So Then, Theme…
Episode 4 - Bug Salad
Oct 15, 2017 • 32 min
How a marketing guy at shareware game publisher Ambrosia Software ended up eating bugs in front of hundreds of people at Macworld New York 2000. If you have an old PowerPC Mac or the Sheepshaver emulator, you can get Escape from Jason Whong via…
Episode 3 - Colour Cycling
Oct 1, 2017 • 31 min
This is the story of illustrator Mark Ferrari, whose artwork was so good it forced Lucasfilm Games to figure out how to make a graphics technique called dithering compress to fit on floppy disks — in the process winning awards and triggering the use of…
[Soundbite] Steve Capps on online social gaming and Bill Gates playing Bridge
Sep 21, 2017 • 4 min
Steve Capps, one of the creators of the Macintosh and a Microsoft executive in the 1990s, tells a story from his days of working alongside Bill Gates. Unused material from an interview conducted while researching my upcoming book, The Secret History of…
Episode 2 - Airfight
Sep 15, 2017 • 24 min
The story of the one of the earliest flight simulator games, Airfight, a favourite among the PLATO community back in 1973, based on an interview with its creator. Airfight was a multiplayer flight combat sim with wireframe graphics and real-time chat, and…
[Extended Interview] Jon Jordan on the evolution of iOS gaming and the App Store
Sep 10, 2017 • 55 min
[re-uploaded as mono] An extended interview with Pocket Gamer co-founder Jon Jordan, who these days writes mostly about the business of mobile games at Pocket Gamer's sister site These full interview postings will normally be for Patreon…
Episode 1 - Race to the bottom
Sep 5, 2017 • 30 min
In the early days of the iPhone App Store, game developers found themselves locked in a race to a $0.99 price point that none of them wanted to become standard. This is the story of how that happened, and how it affected mobile games going forward.…