63 episodes

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.

The Life & Times of Video Games Richard Moss

    • Leisure
    • 4.9 • 12 Ratings

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.

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

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

    The founder of influential old website The Home of the Underdogs discusses the difference between "abandonware" and piracy, and explains why the former needs to exist.

    • 8 min
    If Monks Had Macs

    If Monks Had Macs

    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.

    • 36 min
    The Tomb Raider grid (remastered)

    The Tomb Raider grid (remastered)

    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.

    • 1 hr 1 min
    MobyGames, the IMDB of Video Games

    MobyGames, the IMDB of Video Games

    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.

    • 56 min
    Interview: Kate Willaert

    Interview: Kate Willaert

    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 scripts, and much, much more.
    Interview conducted 1 May 2021
    Links:

    Kate has talked lots about her Carmen Sandiego research, both on Twitter and her blog. Here's one example.


    Tetris: The Games People Play, a graphic novel about the history of Tetris


    The intro to Kate's (eventually) 50-part video series on playable female protagonists


    MobyGames tag for female protagonists (excludes games with multiple playable characters)


    Hardcore Gaming 101 feature on 1980s video game heroines

    The rules governing her 50-part playable female protagonists series are laid out in the intro video and this article


    Atari Compendium's collection of scanned magazines

    The Internet Archive's Magazine Rack


    The Usenet archives on Google Groups are now mixed in with the other groups and not easily browsable, but search still works


    The UTZOO-Wiseman archives on archive.org are a great resource for Usenet posts

    American Radio History

    newspapers.com

    newspaperarchive.com

    Kate's Moonlander article

    Kate's YouTube channel

    I didn't go into specifics on the many significant games made in 1973, so here are several off the top of my head:

    Maze, arguably the first first-person shooter


    Spasim, one of the earliest 3D games

    Airfight/Airace, the first computer flight combat sim (covered on this show in ep2)

    Moonlander

    Empire (the PLATO one)

    David Ahl's 101 BASIC Computer Games collection/book

    Lemonade Stand

    Kate's article/video on the origin of the term "gamer"

    Kate's Moonlander article has good info and sources for the electro-mechanical Lunar Lander game, but those of you looking for more detail may appreciate this article that contextualises its place in early coin-op game history (the article is about Nutting Associates, but Lunar Lander is mentioned at the end)

    Kate's best social media posts are highlighted in her newsletter. Two specific ones we mentioned:

    The "City Boy Mario" Twitter thread


    The Comic Sans Twitter thread


    As of August 9th, 2021, the best of these threads are available in an ebook that's part of a video game StoryBundle along with a bunch of other cool games books. Check it out.



    Here's an article with more info about the ideal number of characters per line

    They Create Worlds book — publisher website | My Amazon affiliate link


    They Create Worlds podcast


    The Ultimate Guide to Video Game History by Steven Kent

    We didn't talk about it, but the best big-picture, whole-industry history of games that I've read is Replay by Tristan Donovan

    (And while we're linking to books, note that my first book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, is getting an Expanded Edition from Bitmap Books, and my second book, Shareware Heroes: Independent Games at the Dawn of the Internet, is currently slated for Q2 2022 publication.)

    Kate's Patreon page

    Thank you to my Patreon supporters for making this episode possible — especially my producer-level backers Carey Clanton, Joel Webber, Scott Grant, Rob Eberhardt, Simon Moss, Seth Robinson, Wade Tregaskis, and Vivek Mohan.
    To support my work, so that I can uncover more untold stories from video game history, you can make a donation via paypal.me/mossrc or subscribe to my Patreon. (I also accept commissions and the like over email or Ko-Fi, if you're after something specific.)
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 1 hr 34 min
    Flight Control, the simple little iPhone game that helped redefine an industry

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

    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.

    • 42 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
12 Ratings

12 Ratings

8bitsteve ,

Awesome!

My new favorite gaming podcast. Great delivery, great writing, great editing, great story telling. I can’t wait to hear more.

maddie@podcastingyou ,

So insightful!

Really love the approach to gaming from a historical standpoint, Richard and his guests are super knowledgeable and I find that the information shared remains relevant to today’s gaming industry.

TChan Games ,

Amazing

The Realsound episode was great with high production value. Richard format was easy to understand. Digital sound in Macintosh helped paved the way forward to modern sound. It’s crazy the challenges they faced like only one sound could be played at a time, file sizes, and had to create new software. Great work Richard!

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