Cover art for podcast The Life & Times of Video Games

The Life & Times of Video Games

63 EpisodesProduced by Richard MossWebsite

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 … read more

63 Episodes | 2017 - 2022

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

February 28th, 2022

8:56

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 …

If Monks Had Macs (Ludiphilia re-release)

December 29th, 2021

36:27

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 …

The Tomb Raider grid (remastered)

October 25th, 2021

1:01:12

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 …

33 - MobyGames, the IMDB of Video Games

October 3rd, 2021

56:19

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

Interview: Kate Willaert (A Critical Hit)

August 5th, 2021

1:34:10

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, …

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

May 19th, 2021

42:10

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 …

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

April 27th, 2021

57:39

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 …

Soundbite: Chris Crawford on thinking in processes vs facts

February 24th, 2021

10:00

When I interviewed the legendary game designer and GDC founder Chris Crawford for 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 …

31 - Ghosts of Games That Never Were

January 28th, 2021

41:00

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 The Video Game History Foundation's Frank …

Soundbite: Chris Crawford on how to give a great speech

January 16th, 2021

11:02

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 …

A Christmas gift from meow to you

December 23rd, 2020

11:11

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, …

Interview: Sam Dyer (Bitmap Books)

December 22nd, 2020

1:15:00

I speak to 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 …

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

December 8th, 2020

38:26

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. …

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

November 26th, 2020

10:45

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, …

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

November 1st, 2020

38:28

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 …

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

October 25th, 2020

32:07

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 …

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

September 27th, 2020

36:10

On the rise and, um...fade out(?) of Chris Sawyer, the genius creator of bestselling, critically-acclaimed simulation games Transport Tycoon and …

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

September 21st, 2020

10:28

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 …

27 - Links

August 30th, 2020

40:01

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 …

The Life & Times of Video Games trailer

August 12th, 2020

1:27

An 87-second promo trailer for The Life & Times of Video Games, encapsulating the essence of its form, style, and content over three …

26 - The Nostalgia Box

August 2nd, 2020

38:58

I go inside Australia's only permanent video game console museum and find that what makes it special is more than just the size of its collection — …

Interview: Kelsey Lewin (Video Game History Foundation and Pink Gorilla Games)

July 24th, 2020

1:34:35

I speak to Kelsey Lewin, a video game historian and collector, retro games store owner, and self-proclaimed Wonderswan enthusiast, about the …

Soundbite: a one-stop shop for (shareware) games

June 30th, 2020

4:15

Glenn Brensinger, former sysop of Software Creations, talks about how his then-boss Dan Linton's "Home of the Authors" Software Creations …

Interview: The CRPG Addict

June 8th, 2020

1:25:39

The man behind The CRPG Addict, a blog dedicated to playing through the entire history of computer role-playing games in roughly-chronological order, …

25 - Pimps at Sea

April 15th, 2020

39:48

It began as an impromptu April Fools' Day gag, but Pimps at Sea was the joke that kept on giving. This is the story of how a chance …

Interview: Phil Salvador (The Obscuritory)

March 31st, 2020

1:44:02

I speak to librarian, games critic, and blogger Phil Salvador about his website The Obscuritory and his research and writing on games unplayed and unknown. In a far-reaching interview, conducted in late February, 2020 …

Soundbite: Gail Tilden on working at Nintendo of America in its early years

March 17th, 2020

6:55

Nintendo Power founding editor and former Nintendo of America marketing executive Gail Tilden remembers her beginnings at the company — before the NES, before Nintendo Power, and even before desktop publishing.

24 - Bully (Canis Canem Edit)

February 26th, 2020

27:43

How 2006 PS2 hit Bully (aka Canis Canem Edit) showed an alternate future for Rockstar and the open-world genre, with its …

Interview: Alex aka Blackoak from Shmuplations.com

February 11th, 2020

1:35:26

I speak to the creator of Shmuplations.com, a large repository of translated interviews with Japanese game developers, about his approach to doing the translations, his insights on the Japanese games industry, and the …

23 - The Fog of War

January 29th, 2020

28:00

In war, no information is complete. No intelligence absolute. No view of the enemy unobstructed. There’s no such thing as perfect knowledge. …

Soundbite: Bruce Shelley's "inverted pyramid of decision making"

January 9th, 2020

4:08

Here's some great game design wisdom from one of the legends of the business.

This interview excerpt is plucked from my set of Age of Empires …

22 - Wololo

December 23rd, 2019

24:13

The sound designers from Age of Empires I and II, brothers Chris and Stephen Rippy, tell the story behind the iconic "wololo" priest chant — …

[Bonus] The Rise & Fall of Ambrosia Software, '90s Mac Legends - PAX Aus 2019 talk

December 5th, 2019

1:00:48

While I'm away on my honeymoon, here's my complete talk from PAX Australia 2019, on the rise and fall of legendary shareware publisher Ambrosia Software — the most underrated of the '90s indie publishing giants.

You can …

21 - Pitfall Harry, the Jungle Runner

November 22nd, 2019

33:39

It’s strange to think of a time before jumping was a standard video game action, to be expected whenever and wherever you have control over …

20 - RealSound™ and Voice Characterisations

November 7th, 2019

36:39

How a quest to put sound in a couple of games in the mid-1980s led to a revolution in computer game audio design and production.

***

These …

Interview: Tom Lenting (Games History of the Netherlands)

October 4th, 2019

44:17

I interview Gamegeschiedenis van Nederland 1978-2018 (Games History of the Netherlands) author Tom Lenting about his book and the history of the Dutch games industry. 

This is the first in a new series of …

19 - Premier Manager

September 3rd, 2019

30:21

On the rise and fall of the Premier Manager series of soccer management games — a former PC gaming juggernaut that lost its way amidst a shuffle of developers and publishers — and the part it played in the …

Soundbite: Former Sega CEO Tom Kalinske on telling the US Senate games aren't "just for kids"

August 15th, 2019

4:24

When the United States Senate held congressional hearings on video game violence in 1993 and '94, Sega CEO Tom Kalinske went to bat in …

18 - Hogs of War

July 24th, 2019

26:53

Far from a mere "Worms in 3D", Hogs of War was its own breed of madness. Hear the story of how it evolved from a concept of "Command and …

17 - Super Mario Kart

July 1st, 2019

25:29

How Nintendo and its mascot created a genre, and a combat-racing franchise heavyweight, and in the process gave us a masterclass in game balance, with the best-selling 1992 Super Nintendo game Super Mario Kart.

16 - Sega Rally Championship

June 7th, 2019

21:49

Sega Rally Championship changed everything for the racing genre, and the 1995 off-road arcade hit was an incredible game too. This is the story of its development, critical reception, and long-term legacy.

If …

Soundbite: Henk Rogers on randomness and dilemmas in Tetris

June 5th, 2019

5:26

For the 35th anniversary of Tetris' original Russian version, I pulled out this clip from my interview with Henk Rogers — co-founder of The …

15 - The Boss Button

May 16th, 2019

22:24

Before computers had proper multitasking support and quick shortcuts for changing apps, playing games when you're not supposed to be could …

14 - Lode Runner

April 30th, 2019

24:33

The story of how a terrible description of the Donkey Kong arcade game led to the creation of Lode Runner, one of the greatest games of all time and one of the earliest games with a built-in level editor.

Lode …

Soundbite: Scott Kim shares a few secrets of puzzle design

February 11th, 2019

4:47

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 …

Bonus: Game devs on the impact of the original Mac

February 1st, 2019

1:03:43

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 …

Episode 13 - Girl Games, Inc.

November 23rd, 2018

40:08

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 …

Episode 12 - Microsoft Games

October 31st, 2018

35:27

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. …

Soundbite: Spotting "the magic" (Jon Kimmich, ex-Microsoft Games)

August 31st, 2018

5:51

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 …

Episode 11 - Bomberman

July 19th, 2018

20:27

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 …

Episode 10 - Dogz

June 13th, 2018

32:59

Frustrated by the unjustified furore that surrounded his tame interactive movie game, designer Rob Fulop turned to Santa for help. And with …

Episode 9 - Midwinter

March 27th, 2018

29:43

On the late Mike Singleton and the importance of Midwinter and The Lords of Midnight, his two great works. After switching from high school …

Episode 8 - The Tomb Raider grid (part 2)

February 18th, 2018

37:38

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 …

Episode 7 - The Tomb Raider Grid (part 1)

December 22nd, 2017

31:30

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 …

Episode 6 - ROM Hack

November 11th, 2017

37:04

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 …

[Soundbite] Mark Ferrari on gatekeepers and a cancelled X-Men game

November 3rd, 2017

11:56

The story of a cancelled X-Men TV controller game, as told by former LucasArts illustrator Mark Ferrari, who is a world-renowned …

Episode 5 - FIFA 3DO

October 23rd, 2017

31:23

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 …

Episode 4 - Bug Salad

October 14th, 2017

32:16

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 …

Episode 3 - Colour Cycling

September 30th, 2017

31:02

Illustrator Mark Ferrari's artwork was so good it forced Lucasfilm Games to develop new graphics programming techniques so they could fit it on a …

[Soundbite] Steve Capps on online social gaming and Bill Gates playing Bridge

September 21st, 2017

4:06

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 …

Episode 2 - Airfight

September 15th, 2017

24:04

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 …

[Extended Interview] Jon Jordan on the evolution of iOS gaming and the App Store

September 10th, 2017

55:29

[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 PocketGamer.biz. These …

Episode 1 - Race to the bottom

September 5th, 2017

30:59

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 …

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