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The Life & Times of Video Games

Technology Podcasts

An award-nominated documentary and narrative audio series about video games and the video game industry — as they were in the past, and how they came to be the way they are today. History doesn't just vanish into the distance behind us; it casts a very long shadow that affects everything that comes after it, and so with The Life and Times of Video Games journalist and historian Richard Moss draws those through lines to tell fascinating stories about the past that link right back to the present.

An award-nominated documentary and narrative audio series about video games and the video game industry — as they were in the past, and how they came to be the way they are today. History doesn't just vanish into the distance behind us; it casts a very long shadow that affects everything that comes after it, and so with The Life and Times of Video Games journalist and historian Richard Moss draws those through lines to tell fascinating stories about the past that link right back to the present.

Location:

Australia

Description:

An award-nominated documentary and narrative audio series about video games and the video game industry — as they were in the past, and how they came to be the way they are today. History doesn't just vanish into the distance behind us; it casts a very long shadow that affects everything that comes after it, and so with The Life and Times of Video Games journalist and historian Richard Moss draws those through lines to tell fascinating stories about the past that link right back to the present.

Language:

English


Episodes

Soundbite: Home of the Underdogs founder Sarinee Achavanuntakul on abandonware vs piracy

2/28/2022
I'm still a ways off of finishing the next full episode, but here's something to fill the void in the meantime. When I spoke to Home of the Underdogs founder Sarinee Achavanuntakul, we had a long segue into the broken world of copyright and its connections to the abandonware scene in games. I'm not sure how much of it will make it into the main story, but I thought a solid chunk of what she said could stand well on its own — especially in light of recent industry discussions around...

Duration:00:08:56

If Monks Had Macs (Ludiphilia re-release)

12/29/2021
To wrap up the year I wanted to revisit one of my old favourites: a story I made for my other (currently-inactive) podcast about one of the strangest and most thought-provoking programs ever created. This is the story of If Monks Had Macs. Original description It all started with a Macintosh ad: 'You too can be a knowledge worker.' This is the story of Brian Thomas' 15-year odyssey at the helm of one of the strangest pieces of multimedia software ever created — If Monks Had Macs. Links You...

Duration:00:37:34

The Tomb Raider grid (remastered)

10/25/2021
To celebrate the 25th birthday of my favourite game franchise, I thought I'd pull out the old Tomb Raider grid episodes from Season 1 and merge them into one. I also put some time into cleaning up the audio, though it'll still sound rough compared to newer episodes — given the lower-fidelity recordings I was using then. Here's the original episode description: Every aspect of the original Core Design Tomb Raider series (and by extension the franchise's success post-Core) comes back to the...

Duration:01:02:29

33 - MobyGames, the IMDB of Video Games

10/3/2021
There was no encyclopaedia nor fleshed-out database of video games in 1999. There were barely even any reliable or comprehensive lists of video games. Not until Jim Leonard decided he needed to build one. He called it https://www.mobygames.com/ (MobyGames), and 22 years later it's the de facto source for credits, screenshots, and other general information about video games. It is the "IMDB of video games". This is its story. My thanks to the people who contributed to this story: Jim Leonard...

Duration:00:58:07

Interview: Kate Willaert (A Critical Hit)

8/4/2021
I speak to games historian and graphic designer Kate Willaert about her research and current projects, as well as her efforts to turn this work into a job. We also voice our complaints about Google's Usenet archives, discuss the horrible world of YouTube publishing, the struggles of getting your work seen/read/heard as a content creator today, the value of a good hook for getting people interested in history, how to structure a historical narrative, our font choices for writing draft...

Duration:01:35:34

32 - Flight Control, the simple little iPhone game that helped redefine an industry

5/18/2021
How a game designed in a week helped to change everything — for the company that made it, for a local industry in turmoil, and for a global industry in transition. Features interviews with Defiant Development co-founder Morgan Jaffit and Firemint founder / Flight Control creator Rob Murray, along with a clip of former Touch Arcade editor Eli Hodapp. LINKS You can't get Flight Control on iOS or Android anymore, but the HD Mac and Windows port is...

Duration:00:44:14

Interview: Andrew Borman (Strong Museum of Play, PtoPOnline)

4/27/2021
The Strong Museum of Play's digital games curator Andrew Borman describes his deep passion for uncovering and preserving cancelled, unreleased, and prototype games. This is so much more than a vocation for him, and here you get to hear all the stories and insights he shared with me when I interviewed him for the season 4 finale, The Ghosts of Games That Never Were. Highlights include the stories behind cancelled Halo and Elder Scrolls games, an unreleased version of Until Dawn, an early...

Duration:00:58:56

Soundbite: Chris Crawford on thinking in processes vs facts

2/23/2021
When I interviewed the legendary game designer and GDC founder Chris Crawford for https://lifeandtimes.games/episodes/files/30 (episode 30), on his famous Dragon Speech, I asked him if he'd have pursued this dragon had he known he'd still be chasing it three decades later. He admitted that he probably would have not. He'd have instead put his energy into making more simulations, teaching people to think in a way that he only recently realised is rare. He calls it process-intensive thinking,...

Duration:00:11:04

31 - Ghosts of Games That Never Were

1/28/2021
What about the games that never make it to market? Do they have stories worth telling, or lessons worth learning? These are the ghosts of games that never were. With help from https://gamehistory.org/ (The Video Game History Foundation)'s Frank Cifaldi, https://www.museumofplay.org/ (The Strong Museum of Play)'s Andrew Borman, https://www.gamesthatwerent.com/ (Games That Weren't) author/curator Frank Gasking, https://tomb-of-ash.com/ (Tomb Raider superfan) Ash Kaprielov, and a couple of old...

Duration:00:42:11

Soundbite: Chris Crawford on how to give a great speech

1/16/2021
If you've listened to episode 30 of the show, even if you weren't previously aware of his work, you'll know what a brilliant orator Chris Crawford is. The Dragon Speech, that famous moment where he charged out of the games industry — by literally charging out of the room — was arguably his magnum opus. And it was only possible thanks to Chris's mastery of the spoken word. Here he describes his approach to public speaking and gives tips on how everyone can give better speeches. To learn more...

Duration:00:12:05

A Christmas gift from meow to you

12/23/2020
Given the hellish year we've had in 2020, I thought it'd be fun to close the year with a touch of levity...in the form of my cat, interrupting me, and just generally wanting to be podcast famous. Happy holidays. May your 2021 be blessed with joy and happiness and dreams fulfilled. Or at least better tidings than this year brought. Thank you to my Patreon supporters for making this show possible — especially my producer-level backers Scott Grant, Rob Eberhardt, Carey Clanton, Vivek Mohan,...

Duration:00:11:40

Interview: Sam Dyer (Bitmap Books)

12/21/2020
I speak to https://www.bitmapbooks.co.uk/ (Bitmap Books) founder/publisher/owner/designer Sam Dyer about the hows and whys of publishing visually-led, high-quality books about games history, including why he loves to publish them and why they are so much more than just "picture books" — indeed, as we cover in the interview, there's both a huge amount of care and craft that goes into making them and we can learn so, so much from looking at the graphical evolution of the medium. We also...

Duration:01:14:59

30 - The Dragon Speech, and Chris Crawford's improbable dream

12/8/2020
It was "the greatest speech he ever gave in his life", and it marked a turning point in his pursuit of his dream, but it had the note of a eulogy. This is the story of how — and why — the legendary designer Chris Crawford left the games industry in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBrj4S24074 (an opening-day lecture) at the 1993 Game Developers Conference, an event that he had founded just six years prior. *** Chris is still at it, still chasing his dragon, now with a more stripped-back...

Duration:00:42:21

Soundbite: Don Daglow on life at Mattel in the early days of the Intellivision

11/25/2020
Utopia and Intellivision World Series Baseball designer Don Daglow, one of the original five game programmers in Mattel's Intellivision group, describes his years spent at the company dodging forklifts, dumpster diving, listening to toys being smashed, and sharing a space with the rest of the electronics division. To learn more about Don Daglow and his mega-influential game Utopia, be sure to listen to episode 29, 'Utopia, and the teacher who made a game of its impossibility'. I've just...

Duration:00:12:07

29 - Utopia, and the teacher who made a game of its impossibility

11/1/2020
When Don Daglow pitched management at Mattel on an Intellivision game about trying to build a perfect society, he thought he was just creating a "line filler" in their product calendar. Instead he made one of the most important games of all time. Don wrote a book in 2018 about the business and design insights he's gained from his long career making video games (nearly 50 years if you include his mainframe games!). If you buy it on Amazon https://amzn.to/3220L2m (via my affiliate link), I get...

Duration:00:39:43

Indie Spotlight: Richard Bannister (Retro Games for Mac Collection)

10/25/2020
This is a sponsored post, but don't let that turn you off. I made a point of doing the interview as I would any other — and Richard Bannister has some fun stories to tell. Richard Bannister is best-known for his Mac-native emulator ports of BSNES, Nestopia, Genesis Plus, and Boycott Advance, plus some two-dozen others, which he built and maintained through the 2000s and returned to relatively recently after a long hiatus. But he also has a fantastic game music player called Audio Overload...

Duration:00:32:07

28 - Transport Tycoon (aka the great optimiser, Chris Sawyer)

9/27/2020
On the rise and, um...fade out(?) of Chris Sawyer, the genius creator of bestselling, critically-acclaimed simulation games Transport Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon — who made a career out of working at the cutting-edge, in bare metal assembly code that he wrote and optimised (and optimised again) on his own, until the cutting-edge left him behind. Chris was only a design consultant on 2004 game RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, but its remastered "Complete" edition has just come out on Nintendo...

Duration:00:37:55

Soundbite: Vance Cook on inventing new control mechanics for virtual golf

9/21/2020
Former Links, PGA Championship Golf, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour lead Vance Cook explains how and why his team(s) created new ways to swing a virtual golf club — beginning with the C-shaped gauge in Links and leading into "TruSwing" on Front Page Sports Golf and PGA Championship, and then ending with the motion-controller (Wiimote) swing in Tiger Woods Wii. Also listen for insights into the difference between sports games that aim for simulation versus those that aim for the "emotional...

Duration:00:11:13

27 - Links

8/29/2020
In 1990, in a bid to move ahead of their rivals, Access Software reinvented virtual golf. Their game Links set the template for golf games over the next decade, with a technological tour de force, and along the way it dominated bestselling PC games charts month after month, year after year. Until suddenly it didn't. This is the story of Links and the huge shadow it cast over its genre. If you'd like to play the original Links for yourself and would like to see it the way people saw it at the...

Duration:00:41:49

The Life & Times of Video Games trailer

8/12/2020
An 87-second promo trailer for The Life & Times of Video Games, encapsulating the essence of its form, style, and content over three seasons and counting. Have you ever wondered about the stories behind your favourite video games? Like, how they were made and why they were designed a certain way? The Life and Times of Video Games has the answers to all of this and more, packaged in half-hour audio documentaries that take you back to the past and loop you into the present — to understand not...

Duration:00:01:26