An Eighties Vision of the Video Game Designer

In the eighties, I realized that at some point I would like to make an attempt at being a video game designer. Being a native kid, with no real understanding of how to proceed, I did what I usually did in that situation. I would read magazines that mentioned video games and how they were designed and would cut out art in those magazines and hang them on my wall or put them in a book. As if by the act of passive observing and collecting would make it happen.

During my teen years I made several attempts to create board games and RPGs. Usually they were derivative works with little in the way of innovation, but occasionally I would do something that I was proud enough of to share with my friends. Sadly as soon as they started spotting flaws (which were plentiful), their criticism, even when it was not harsh would destroy my enthusiasm for the project.

Despite this, I never stopped thinking that one day it would happen and the seeds planted in the eighties would eventually bear fruit when I would land work in that much dreamt about industry.

I am very happy that I had the opportunity to work in the video game industry for a while. It was very much a dream come true. So if you know someone who has an interest, please consider encouraging them. Oh, and if they have a middling RPG game about Flying Circuses in 1920’s American, try to make the criticism constructive (even if the economic system is oversimplified and under-researched).

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2 thoughts on “An Eighties Vision of the Video Game Designer

  1. ddsw says:

    Don’t feel bad because your games were derivative. Just remember how many Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Donkey Kong clones flooded the arcades.

  2. Atari Adventure Square says:

    The fact that we lived through an era where inventive video games blossomed into a cultural normality is a wonder.
    It takes such creative urges and sustained imaginative streaks to get a fun game onto the market, and it takes more tedious coding/testing hours than any of that, by a long shot.

    Even in the Atari days, I was impressed by Warren Robinett’s commitment and success to bringing a ‘role-playing’ universe to the limited console.

    My own meager attempts to write Sinclair and Commodore computer games were limited to copying full programs from magazines and hoping I didn’t miss a character.
    I usually did, and had to re-read everything, comprehending less and less of it as I went.
    Yeah, that was realization that it was not for me.

    The languages themselves are interesting cuz you learn that logic and mathematics by themselves offer pure structure and deeper understandings about constructs (all manner) than we have yet to discover (can’t wait to see what Quantum Gaming has in store for us).

    As for RPGs, I would offer that the next evolutionary step was taken by you (and myself) in embracing Gary Gygax’s fantasy ‘language’ to make our own worlds, stories, characters come to life using the most powerful computerized tool on the planet – the human brain.

    (yeah, yeah – cue Captain Kirk standing defiantly over a fallen, fuming, sputtering machine, broken by earthen logic)

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