Work the room

That first time I went to Classic Gaming Expo was quite something. I had won, in a contest on the Digital Press forum, a pass to attend the alumni dinner held the night before the opening of the show proper. This event was a closed-doors event where the game designers, programmers and executives got to mingle and have a bite to eat and a few drinks without the pressure of the paying guests who’d be asking, the next day, “what was it like when…” questions that they probably get asked every year. Me, I was neither a game designer nor a programmer. I had, in fact, played Atari today, but I hadn’t worked there. I liked to think of myself as a historian and a game journalist at best, but definitely felt out of my depth. To my mind, this meant one thing: sit back, shut up, soak it all up and remember it. Listen, don’t interject. This ain’t your party, but you got in anyway, just relax and enjoy like you belong there. In short, it’s advice I’ve given to my kids as they grow up: it’s not all about you.

Well, that’s what I thought going in anyway. Some of the show’s honored guests graced us with their presence on the forums and we were already acquainted in an internet kind of way. I was almost immediately greeted by ex-Apple-and-Atari programmer Steve Woita, who is a bundle of almost-zen-like friendly in a Hawaiian shirt, and he immediately introduced me to Keith Robinson, president of Intellivision Productions. Keith and his cohorts – the “Blue Sky Rangers” – had been the original programmers for the Intellivision game console in the ’80s, and when Mattel Electronics dropped the video game business like the hot potato fad they thought it was, Keith bought the rights to the software, the hardware, and the name. It has to be pointed out what a unique situation this was: the Atari that releases games now is neither the Atari that Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney started in Ted’s guest room, nor is it the boom-years giant that it became after Warner Bros. bought it from Nolan. Modern Atari is an intellectual property holding company that scooped up the remains of 1980s Atari at fire-sale clearance prices. Same with the current holders of the Colecovision name and IP. These IP portfolios have changed hands many a time. Intellivision Productions, though? That was always the same bunch of people who had made the games in the first place. And at the center of that web, as its organizing force and its public face, was Keith Robinson.

Keith Robinson
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Ends of eras

Ptooey!On Sunday, a couple dropped by to load up my dear old Kickman arcade machine to take it home. I have to admit I was being a bit of a “helicopter parent” to a machine that was no longer mine: I was practically grilling them about whether or not they had the necessary gear to load, secure and transport it home. “Do you have straps? Have you seen the clouds building overhead – do you have a tarp?” How they resisted the urge to tell me to shaddup and go inside, I have no idea. The point is: thanks to an inept employee of North American Van Lines, I never got to get the full enjoyment out of the machine, because he damaged it all but ramming it through the walls of my house when the machine was delivered to me years and years ago. The wording of my auction was pretty strict: don’t bother to bid on this unless you know the proper way to get it out of here. I’d rather keep the machine and not have the money than watch it get beaten up even more on the way out the door. Read More

The destruction of the great temple across town from the Sphinx

Whoa... I need a ziggurat.A completely true story. And this time it has nothing to do with broadcasting.

It was the summer of 2003, and I had just flown into Las Vegas for the first time. Wide-eyed, but mainly jet-lagged, I took the complimentary shuttle bus from the airport to the Plaza Hotel and started the whole “trying to check into my room” process. It should be noted that, at this point in the story, I was meeting with very limited success, and by very limited, I mean “none.” Read More

I fell off the blogwagon

Sorry, I seem to have fallen off the blogwagon here lately.

One thing I take great pains to not do with my blog – not that I’ve always been able to stick to this and censor myself at just the right times – is bitch and moan about stuff. Sadly, that’s really all I feel like doing lately. I don’t like listening to/reading that sort of thing, and I don’t want to be the guy who decides that everyone else is entitled to listen to him whining. So…I just haven’t said a lot lately, anywhere.

I’ve got a new DVD out, which I’m in the process of writing a semi-technical post about for the 0.8 people who are interested, and I’ve already loaded raw footage into the trusty Avid so I can start editing the next DVD very soon. In and around that, I’m writing, editing and re-writing a book, and getting ready for OVGE this October in Tulsa.

All of this while looking for a job, which has really been the thing that’s had me in a deep blue funk lately. I originally had a big spiel written here, and then remembered that the first part of this post as about not venting uncontrollably in all directions. Oops.

One thing I’m really looking forward to is Evan’s second birthday. It falls on a Saturday this year, and I’m planning a “boys’ day out” to the Tulsa Zoo. Maybe the planetarium if he’s still up for it. I’d like to pick up my dad on the way, but I don’t know what his schedule’s like. I think it’d be neat to get all the Green men in one place…probably at the monkey exhibit, appropriately enough. I’ve never been to a zoo before – talk about a sheltered upbringing – and Evan loooooves animals, so I’ve been looking forward to this to the tune of actually having dreams about it. I just love the look on his face when he’s discovering stuff and figuring it out, and I’m sure this trip will give him plenty of chances to be “wowed.”

Amazing how a trip to someplace two hours away full of animals is becoming the light at the end of the tunnel for me. As long as little E is with me, that’s what makes it a good day.