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February 22, 2020
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OldGuyRant #01

by Eric Kinkead on 10/04/11 11:39:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Back in my day we didn't have Gamasutra!  #@$!%@!   We got social through BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems) and had Acoustic modems (like you see in the movie War Games).  We actually hung out face to face in enthusiast groups like HACE.(Houston Area Computer enthusiast, or [YourCity] Area Computer enthusiast)

We hung out at the local computer store.  That's right.  And the stores had great names like Megabyte +, or The Floppy Wizard.  Who wouldn't want to go to a store called the Floppy Wizard?!?   There were stores that just sold computers.  Not phones, not dishwashing machines.  Just computers.  And people hung out there and traded information.   Well, they would out smart you on just about anything from the ending of Karate Kid to why the best version of the Okidata color printer they can't afford is 'actually not that good'.
Old Compute! Magazine where you could always find code to type in.
Game Development.  Indie Game distribution.  Open Source.  Game Engines.  pphhhft... Really?  Get yourself a copy of Compute! and type that latest game in.  That's right...type it in!   Then you ran the code!  And it broke!  Always!  But you hunted down where and how it broke.  Basic had no debuggers.  It just would freakin' break!  Sometime the code you typed in had a bug and you had to wait until the next month to get the correction in the next issue.

I had to use the Telephone Operator to find the number for Williams/Bally/Midway to cold call their departments and look for an open position.  When I applied at Williams/Bally/Midway in 1991 I took a box on my interview with an Atari ST computer so I could load up the games I created and show them.  I had a graphics portfolio on multiple VHS Cassette tapes as well!  The interview lasted for over an hour and I begged them to show me what they were working on.  I was at last able to see the prototype for Mortal Kombat.  Six months later I finally got in there as a Computer Artist, which back in those days also meant Technical artist, Designer, Tester, Lighting guy, prop holder, and a variety of other step and fetch it tasks.

My old Williams/Bally/Midway Biz card
It wasn't like today where there are 5000 applicants for every job and schools pumping out game developing hopefuls.  But do not fret!  Because back then there also were hardly any game jobs, it was really hard to find the ones that did exist and user resources where even more scarce.

One thing I have noticed is that it seems easier for one person to make a big impact (ie. Create a game) than it was in the 1990's early 2000's.  This is good news for those who really want to do it.  Everything you need is at your fingertips.   And it is very bad news for those who are really just out there to talk, pull down a paycheck and or have other people do all the work for their 'great ideas'...but I'll save that for another OldGuyRant rant. ;)

Eric Kinkead

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