First Anniversary

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

I can’t believe it’s already been one full year since I started the newsletter? Maybe because it hasn’t been a full year of newsletter, due to my I taking a mental break these last few months. Let’s do some catch-up.

Article: Who Won In The First Game Awards?

My big contribution to gaming history this month was this breakdown of “The Arkies,” the first ever video game awards circa 1980 in VIDEO magazine. Most of these games are unfamiliar to those of us who started gaming in the NES era, so I try to establish some context.

Twitter Threads

Around The Internet

VIDEO: FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS Is Genius, And Here’s Why (Hbomberguy)
Hasn’t everything there is to say about this game already been said? No, it turns out. This video is full of great game design observations to chew on.

VIDEO: Napoleon’s Missing Hand, Explained (Vox)
No, Napoleon wasn’t actually missing a hand, but the true story is a fascinating look at how the meaning behind something as simple as body language can go from being iconic to forgotten.

VIDEO: How AUSTIN POWERS Predicted The Future Of Cinema (Patrick H Willems)
This kind of blew my mind, because it’s been so long since I watched any of these movies (and I’ve still never seen the third one), that I didn’t realize what a dead-on parody these were of numerous movies that were made after.

VIDEO: The Story Of MEGA MAN On DOS (Gaming Historian)
A pretty respectful look at a group of obscure games that would be easy to mock.

VIDEO: Arcade Dreams Forgotten Classics: SEGA GUN FIGHT
Sort of a trailer for an upcoming Kickstarter documentary about the history of the arcade. I’ve been asked to be involved later in 2021.

VIDEO: Trailheads: THE OREGON TRAIL’S Origins (MinnMax)
Over a decade in the making, features great interviews with the creators of the game.

VIDEO: What Is BLASEBALL And Why Is It Taking Over The Internet?
I’m not huge into sports so I didn’t think this would interest me…but I was wrong.

VIDEO: The Making Of MONKEY ISLAND (Onearetrotip)
VIDEO: The Secrets Of MONKEY ISLAND — An Evening With Ron Gilbert (VGHF)
This was a great month for fans of the first MONKEY ISLAND game. One is a documentary, the other is an interview featuring never before seen cutting room floor material. More of the latter can also be seen in this gif-heavy article.

VIDEO: THE PRICE IS RIGHT Host Entrance (Ological)
There’s more to the art of the host entrance than you might think. Fascinating if you’re interested in visual storytelling.

VIDEO: How Science Fiction Shaped Jimi Hendrix (Polyphonic)
A fun, nicely animated deep dive into Hendrix’s sci-fi roots.

VIDEO: The Bizarre SKITTLES Licensed Game (Minimme)
How a dev used a shameless licensing opportunity to try to make the game she always wanted.

That’s all for this month. As always, you can support my research on Patreon.

Highs & Lows

What Even Happened This Month

September 2020 was one of the three worst months of my life. But just when I was at my lowest, something strange happened.

I no longer remember what I was searching for when I found this image. When I wrote the thread around it, I didn’t expect that anyone would buy my theory. I thought it’d get at most maybe three “likes” and a few chuckles.

Instead, I got 200 new followers, and my mailing list doubled! Thank you to all my new readers this month, and I hope you’ll enjoy what I’ve got in store in the upcoming months.

Twitter Threads


ARTICLE: Gaming Historians Respond To High Score (HOHWP)
Read my and other historians thoughts on Netflix’s HIGH SCORE.

STREAM: Jack Kirby 3 For 103 (Kirby Museum)
For the 103rd birthday of Avengers/X-Men/Fantastic Four co-creator Jack Kirby, the Kirby Museum held three days of live streamed panels, and I was invited to be a guest. Unfortunately, I experienced recurring technical difficulties, plus I’ve been experiencing recurring insomnia, so I wasn’t at my best. Despite that, I’ve been told it wasn’t a complete disaster. I plan to turn the main part of the talk into a video essay after I finish my current one.

Around the Internet

VIDEO: This 80s Song Inspired Mario’s Music
This is an older video, but worth a watch for the mind-blowing revelations.

VIDEO: Sony’s Three Biggest Mistakes (Gaming Historian)
Another quality vid from Norm.

VIDEO: Cities Without People (Jacob Geller)
I recommend reading the illustrated short story 17776 before watching.

VIDEO: Big Boxes (Ahoy)
I was mostly a console gamer in the pre-digital times, so I never realized how much variance there was in PC game boxes.

VIDEO: The Psychological Trick That Can Make Rewards Backfire (GMTK)
Sometimes rewarding the player discourages them from playing the game properly.

VIDEO: ACHEWOOD Is Genius And Here’s Why (Thought Slime)
I was unfamiliar with the webcomic ACHEWOOD, but Thought Slime’s description of “that one story” really blew me away.

VIDEO: The Modern Class Of Gonzo Blockbuster (Patrick H Willems)
Another topic I never knew I wanted to hear about until I watched it.

ARTICLE: The Video Game History Booklist (HOHWP)
A comprehensive list of books about game history.

ARTICLE: The First Black Female Game Designer
An interview with Muriel Tramis.

That’s all for this month. As always, you can support my research on Patreon.

Boss Rush

Everything Happening At Once

Every four months or so, does a bundle of game-themed books. Back in the day they were curated by Simon Carless, nowadays they’re curated by David L. Craddock.

The current gaming book bundle — available for only the next 18 days — features an exclusive book by Ethan Johnson with a cover designed by me!:

No new game history articles from me, but there’s a video I’ve been working on that’s so close to finish, I was hoping it’d be in this month’s newsletter. Very soon.

Twitter Threads

Standard/Nebula Projects

If you’re into education videos that cover geek topics or history but not both at the same time, the last 30 days were an exciting month for projects I created visuals for.

Half As Interesting asked me to create a bunch of courtroom drawings for their comedic Nebula Original, which features cameos from various creators:

I also helped design the new branding for Jordan Harrod’s channel:

AND I illustrated this Tarot card parody design for a Philosophy Tube t-shirt! It comes in both men’s and women’s styles:

Around The Internet

2020 is the year of the virtual comic/gaming convention. I may or may not show up in future virtual panel. Stay tuned.

CON: SDCC @ Home
Never been to the world’s biggest comic con? This will at least give you a sense of what the panels are like.

CON: MysteriumCon
More than you ever knew you wanted to know about the adventure game series MYST.

CROSSOVER: One X-Cellent Scene
In an epic Youtube crossover, numerous creators and essayists pick one favorite X-MEN movie scene to analyze. Patrick H. Willems played loose with the theme, doing a comic scene instead of a movie scene.

I wonder what scene I’d do? Maybe a comic scene as well? I could imagine doing the opening of X-MEN #1 (1991). Or maybe reprising a segment from my controversial blog Kirby Without Words (currently on hiatus).

VIDEO: How Companions Change The Game (Story Mode)
Story Mode is a new Nebula-exclusive channel about storytelling in video games by the people who do Lessons From The Screenplay.

VIDEO: The Story Of Mario Paint (Gaming Historian)
Norm dug up some great historical info, mixed in with personal accounts.

VIDEO: Carmen Sandiego PBS Game Show Reunion (Hosts At Home)
Rockapella and co-host Greg Lee discuss what it was like making the old PBS game show. Contains a short clip of the lost planetarium film.

VIDEO: The Intamacy Of Everyday Objects (Jacob Geller)
Most of us still haven’t had a chance to play HALF-LIFE:ALYX, so Geller discusses out one specific aspect that makes the game feel extra immersive.

VIDEO: How IMAX Made Christopher Nolan A Better Filmmaker (Patrick Willems)
VIDEO: The Strange Comfort Of Time Loop Movies (Patrick Willems)
Patrick has really been cranking out essays during this pandemic, unlike me. His time loop essay is particularly relatable, in how he compares time loop movies to distancing fatigue.

VIDEO: Resurrecting The Ecto-1
A short documentary about restoring the car for the new GHOSTBUSTERS movie.

VIDEO: TWIN PEAKS Actually Explained
VIDEO: …Even More
VIDEO: …Responding

Everyone’s got theories about the symbolism of Twin Peaks, but this one really nails it. It literally changed the way I look at Twin Peaks. Yes, the above three videos are, like, six hours worth of essay, but worth it if you’re a fan of the series.

ARTICLE: The Secret Origin Of The Action RPG
Fascinating discovery of the missing link between RPGs and Action-RPGs. The first sentence almost put me off because it makes it sound like Zelda is an Action-RPG, but the rest is good. ;-)

ARTICLE: How Flash Games Shaped The VIdeo Game Industry

Interesting experimental visualization of Flash game.

That’s all for this month. As always, you can support my research on Patreon.

Happy Birthday Famicom

And Happy Birthday To Sega's SG-1000, I Guess

NES/Famicom Starting Guide | Satoshi Matrix's Blog

Nintendo’s Famicom was released on this day in 1983. The funny thing about being born on the day the Famicom was released is that I get to wish it a happy birthday on my birthday. (The downside is that when the Famicom hits a big anniversary year, the entire internet that day reminds me I’m old.)

The month of June was about getting out of my funk. I have some exciting new research and new illustrations that I’ll hopefully be able to share with you soon.

Twitter Threads


As usual, I’ve been helping design thumbnails for Half As Interesting and Real Life Lore. Over at the former channel we dropped the title blocks, which opened things up to experimentation. I’m pretty happy with the above two images in particular.

Around The Internet

VIDEO: Andy McNamara Interview (MinnMax)
Minnesota gaming magazine Game Informer’s Editor In Chief Andy McNamara is stepping down, which blew my mind. He discusses his big career change on MinnMax, a Minnesota Youtube channel started by other former Game Informer writers.

VIDEO: Remastering Command & Conquer (Noclip)
I find projects that remaster early FMV footage super fascinating.

VIDEO: Are Western And Japanese RPGs So Different? (Game Maker’s Toolkit)
A brief history of the origin of the digital RPG.

VIDEO/AUDIO: They Create Worlds Livestream (Part 1)
The THEY CREATE WORLDS podcast recorded raw audio for multiple upcoming episodes during an epic Twitch livestream, and now they’re experimenting with launching a channel. Like and subscribe?

VIDEO: Renderware - The Engine That Powered An Era (Retrohistories)
I’d never heard of this engine, and a lot of games used it.

VIDEO: Night Driver (Atari Archives)
A fascinating look at early driving games.

VIDEO: Final Hours Of Half-Life - Alyx (Geoff Reads First 3 Chapters Live)
What it says on the tin, archive of a stream.

ARTICLE: The Rise And Fall Of Adobe Flash

ARTICLE: Street Fighter 1: An Oral History

ARTICLE: The Designer Of The NES Dishes The Dirt On Nintendo’s Early Days

ARTICLE: Gunpei Yokoi - Investing The Game And Watch (Shmupulations)

ARTICLE: Hunting Down The People Who Legally Changed Their Names To Turok

ARTICLE: Indie History - How Shareware Helped Build Epic Games

THREAD: The Special Features Included On An Obscure ‘90s Namco Game

Unrelated To Games

Yeah, I link to a lot of video game history, but I also love hearing about culture outside of games.

VIDEO: How K-Pop Superfans Are Changing The World (MinnMax)
Speaking of MinnMax, it has a new column/series called Refreshed that looks at digital culture. I’ve been curiouso about this whole K-Pop phenomenon, so I enjoy this primer.

VIDEO: The ‘90s Dark Universe (Patrick H. Willems)
I didn’t realize that Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s DRACULA led to a whole movement of serious horror.

VIDEO: Death Of The Author 2: Rowling Boogaloo (Lindsay Ellis)
Unscripted thoughts about the whole J.K. Rowling situation.

VIDEO: A Million Dollars Vs. A Billion Dollars, Visualized (Tom Scott)
Unless you’re a millionaire, the difference between a million and a billion is difficult to comprehend, because both just seem like silly fictional numbers to our brains. Tom Scott does an amazing job of illustrating the difference.

VIDEO: Working Titles Trailer (Nebula)
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I exist in the Venn Diagram overlap between Movies/Games/Comics and Obsession-With-Fonts. And so does this ongoing video series! If you share a similar obsession, it might be worth it to sign up for a free trial to Nebula. Disclosure: I work for the company who does Nebula, but I’m sharing this cuz I love it.

That’s all for this month. As always, you can support my research on Patreon. Exciting things coming very soon.

Pun Title

Attempt At Clever Subtitle.

Y’know, at the beginning of May I tweeted:

I don’t even want to think about how June could top May, because frankly leaking from my back during a pandemic during a political crisis is pretty much my limit.

The “leaking” I was referring to was the recurring cyst on my back that returned — despite being surgically removed last time — just as we all began socially isolating. But before I could get it removed again, I needed to wait for the painful infection to subside, followed by daily bandaging while it drained after popping on its own.

But I finally got it surgeried at the last week of May. Coincidentally, the day before watching a live feed of the riots in Minneapolis.

I’m not used to my home territory of Minnesota being the center of international news, but here we are. Thankfully, it appears changes are being set in motion in Minneapolis. I can only hope other cities will follow suit. Black lives matter.

I’ve been in a slump, but I managed to spew out some threads:

Twitter Threads


Meanwhile, I helped out designing animated sequences for Polymatter and thumbnails for Half As Interesting and the Real Life Lore family of channels.

If you’re a fan of Patrick H. Willems, you may have seen my Charl illustration on the title card for the segment “Let’s Get CocoNUTS With Charl.”

And if you’re a fan of Up And Atom, you might’ve noticed it’s got a new look with a new logo I designed.

Around The Internet

We thought it was lost forever, but it was found thanks to Phil Salvador raising awareness of it’s existence. Now I just hope someone finds a stray copy of RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE.

After Wietse van Bruggen discovered this amazing article about man in a Mario mascot suit attending the steamrolling of bootleg video games, “Steamroller Mario” became the ironic mascot of a circle of game historians and preservationists. Now there’s a game!

VIDEO: Untold History Of Arkane (Noclip)
Fascinating documentary with never before scene footage of HALF-LIFE: RAVENHOLM, LMNO, and THE CROSSING.

VIDEO: How Much Music Theory Did The Beatles Know?
This is a question I’ve long wondered, thoroughly dissected.

The actual title is “Ted Woolsey Remembers Final Fantasy 6, Evading Nintendo's Censorship Rules, and the Early Days of Localization.”

Sorry, I haven’t been watching/reading a lot of history lately. Hopefully more next month. And as always, you can support my research on Patreon.

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