Critical Mass: Secret Codes

Unlocking A New You

A lot has happened since the last update!

In May I was granted a Fellowship to The Strong. I ran a GoFundMe to fund the trip, which reached its goal in less than 24 hours!

I spent June 6-12 in Rochester, NY researching various topics at The Strong’s library, mostly focused on my upcoming videos Carmen Declassified and Video Dames #1.

Then, on June 23 I was a panelist on the Internet Archive livestream Game Not Over, alongside John Carmack, Garry Kitchen, Kelsey Lewin, and Jason Scott. Can you believe that??

I also started up a “Game History” Twitter Feed, for those days where you want to Gamescroll instead of Doomscroll.

And before Pride Month was over, I decided to officially come out as trans. But you don’t have to worry about getting used to a new name or pronouns — I already did it 15 years ago.

While working away on my next big video, Video Dames Zero, I also published a few articles:

ARTICLE: Make Love Not War - Talking With The Creator Of The First Software Easter Egg

Before Easter Eggs in video games there were Easter Eggs in software. The earliest known Egg was activated via a save-file command in an early text editor. Who put it there was a mystery I never thought would be solved, until Ed Fries dug up some new leads. When we found him, I put everything on hold to do a proper interview.

ARTICLE: Metroid’s Justin Bailey Is A Real Person; Here’s Why He Hasn’t Spoken Up

Somewhere out is a kid named Justin Bailey who tried entering his name on the password screen in Metroid, and through sheer luck ended up with a surprising load-out. Or was it someone who knew him who entered his name? I tried to track him down, and this is my status report.

Other Happenings

Twitter Threads & Tangents

Around The Internet

ARTICLE: The Incredible Boxes Of Hock Wah Yeo (The Obscuritory)
A few newsletters ago I skipped the “Around The Internet” section due to overwhelm, and forgot to get back to what I missed. This article was definitely my favorite from the first quarter of the year, a must-read if you love box art like I do.

PODCAST: The Video Game History Hour (VGHF)
Frank Cifaldi and Kelsey Lewin are doing an amazing job of spotting great history research and interviewing the people responsible. A number of the videos below have supplementary podcast episodes on VGHH.

VIDEO: Super Mario Bros. Anime 16mm Has Also Been Digitized!
Before the Super Mario Bros. live action movie, there was a big screen anime only released in Japan. Someone recently scanned the 16mm reel in 4K and is in the process of cleaning it up further.

VIDEO: Holy Shit, Metroid Dread Is Happening!

October is so far away!

VIDEO: The Oral History Of PopCap Games (MinnMax)
This epic four-hour documentary is everything you never knew you wanted to know about the history of PopCap Games. I watched it in chunks over several days, but it’s worth it!

VIDEO: SEGA Mega Modem - Ahead Of Its Time (Gaming Historian)
Sometimes a great idea comes along before the world is ready for it. As Marty McFlyd said, “I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet, but your kids are gonna love it.”

VIDEO: Stellar Track [Star Trek] (Atari Archive)
How do you convert a text-heavy game designed for keyboards into an Atari game that uses a single button and a joystick? Well, that’s…a good question.

VIDEO: How Nintendo Failed Into Super Mario Kart (Wrestling With Gaming)
I already knew most of this because I’m obsessed with kart racers, but you should check it out!

VIDEO: JP Trespasser - A Failure That Stood The Test Of Time (Kim Justice)
I had no idea what went on behind the scenes in the making of this game, or how ambitious it was intended to be.

VIDEO: The Girl Games Of Lost Media [Part 2] (Bobdunga)
Part one originally began as a search for a lot Mean Girls game that got sidetracked by the discovery of a lost Clueless game. But now Mean Girls has been found!

ARTICLE: Video Game Sales [1972-1999] (Gaming Alexandria)
It’s a lot ot take in, but establishing accurate numbers is an important part of the narrative around the evolution of the video game industry.

VIDEO: Vaccines - A Measured Response (Hbomberguy)
Hbomb’s heavily researched video essays keep getting better and better. This time he tackles how anti-vax conspiraces got started.

VIDEO: The Tangled Legacy Of Spice Girls & “Wannabe” (Trash Theory)
This is one of my favorite music history channels. The story of how “Wannabe” came about and the aftermath is a lot more complicated and twisty than I thought.

VIDEO: The Real Reason Schools Give Kids Summers Off (Cheddar)
This video is well-made, but also demonstrates the challenge in debunking misinformation. You’ll be able to remember that the “farming” reason is a myth, but because the real reason is presented in a less catchy way that attempts to delve into the complexities, you’ll have trouble reciting the “real reason” when asked. (The real reason: city families liked to vacation in the summer.)

Loading more posts…