Sunday, November 12, 2017

Joystick Nation: 20 Years Ago

Twenty years ago, I was living in London and running a company called Argonaut Games. It was a wild time, they were an amazing collection of talent and a totally screwed up business. But that business story and the games that we produced (Croc, Legend of the Gobbos), well that's another story.   It was also 1997 which was an exciting time in the tech industry.

One night, I was home reading an email on my Mac and an email - I was on Compuserve for home use back then -  talked about a book about video games. A book called Joystick Nation. So I clicked on a link and had my first big experience with the World Wide Web. I clicked through to Amazon to read a review of the book.  And then on Amazon, I found that I could order the book.  It was written by a lady name J.C. Herz.

I then found that I could actually listen to an interview with the author. I think I needed to download Real Audio or something else that from that era but it worked!  I read an email, clicked thru to find out more about a reference to a book. Read a full review, listened to an interview of the author, and then ordered it online.

Incredible. I even read the book and I think I might have emailed the author. Her email was included in the book. It was the true start of the digital era for me.  Never mind that I had used email since 1988 at SGI, was deeply involved in the 3D synthetic imagery revolution, spoke in the 80s on VR, and was immersed in the video game world. Things actually first connected for me over JC Herz's book.  I think it was Memorial Day weekend back then.




And for those of us that are struggling with FutureShock, check out some vintage education technology from the 20th Century such as filmstrips, record players, and mimeograph machines.

4 comments:

Johne said...

Pleased that you remember.....

JC Herz said...

Real Audio! That takes me back...Thanks for the mention (and the memories) - in some ways the '90s seemed to spawn more innovation in game design than subsequent decades, perhaps because the underlying technology (compute, graphics processing) was scaling in power and dropping in price, and those gains became asymptotic in the '00s. I remember the last Game Developers' Conference I attended, the most loudly-trumpeted innovation was upside-down reflections of the scene in every raindrop on a virtual windshield. Which is cool...but also a reason not to go to GDC anymore.

I guess there's hope in A/R - Pokemon Go was incredible as a design feat. But man, do I miss Will Wright, Warren Spector and Sid Meier in their salad days.

JC Herz said...

Real Audio! That takes me back...Thanks for the mention (and the memories) - in some ways the '90s seemed to spawn more innovation in game design than subsequent decades, perhaps because the underlying technology (compute, graphics processing) was scaling in power and dropping in price, and those gains became asymptotic in the '00s. I remember the last Game Developers' Conference I attended, the most loudly-trumpeted innovation was upside-down reflections of the scene in every raindrop on a virtual windshield. Which is cool...but also a reason not to go to GDC anymore.

I guess there's hope in A/R - Pokemon Go was incredible as a design feat. But man, do I miss Will Wright, Warren Spector and Sid Meier in their salad days.

Johne said...

Heh, JC lives, breaths, comments! Glad to see that the net still works.

I thought the BullFrog stuff was amazing back in the mid 90s.

And I remember that the first 3D sports game appered back in the early 90s: It was FIFA on The 3DO!