The Life & Times of Video Games

An award-nominated documentary 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. The Life and Times of Video Games combines context, analysis, interviews, and thoughtful reflection that ties every story back to the present day, because history doesn't just vanish into the distance behind us; it casts a very long shadow that affects everything that comes after it. The things that happened in the games industry 10, 20, 30 years ago all have a lasting legacy — sometimes small, sometimes large — and journalist and historian Richard Moss here tries to draw those through lines in the course of telling fascinating stories about the past. 

Video Games
Soundbite: Vance Cook on inventing new control ...
Former Links, PGA Championship Golf, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour lead Vance Cook explains how and why his team(s) created new ways to swing a virtual golf club
10 min
27 - Links
How 1990 hit DOS game Links reinvented virtual golf and set the foundation for the modern golf game
40 min
The Life & Times of Video Games trailer
Have you ever wondered about the stories behind your favourite video games? Like, how they were made and why they were designed a certain way? The Life & Times of Video Games has the answers to all of this and more, packaged in half-hour documentaries...
1 min
26 - The Nostalgia Box
I go inside Australia's only permanent video game console museum and find that what makes it special is more than just the size of its collection — or the fact that it exists.
38 min
Interview: Kelsey Lewin (Video Game History Fou...
I speak to the Video Game History Foundation co-director and Pink Gorilla Games co-owner about her work and insights on games history, preservation, and collecting.
94 min
Soundbite: a one-stop shop for (shareware) games
Glenn Brensinger, former sysop of Software Creations, talks about how his then-boss Dan Linton's "Home of the Authors" Software Creations BBS served as a sort of prototypical Steam.
4 min
Interview: The CRPG Addict
The man behind the CRPG Addict, a blog dedicated to playing through the entire history of computer role-playing games in roughly-chronological order, discusses his decade-long (and counting!) conquest and the roots of his passion. 
85 min
25 - Pimps at Sea
The joke that kept on giving.
37 min
Interview: Phil Salvador (The Obscuritory)
Phil writes about and researches games unplayed and unknown. Here we discuss his approach to covering old and obscure games, as well as the importance of being kind
104 min
Soundbite: Gail Tilden on working at Nintendo o...
Nintendo Power founding editor and former Nintendo of America marketing executive Gail Tilden remembers her beginnings at the company — before the NES, before Nintendo Power, and even before desktop publishing.
6 min
24 - Bully (Canis Canem Edit)
How 2006 PS2 hit Bully showed an alternate future for Rockstar and the open-world genre
25 min
Interview: Alex aka Blackoak from
Alex translates old interviews with Japanese game developers — we talk process, insights on the Japanese games industry, and the highs and lows (and struggles) of running a time-intensive side hustle.
95 min
23 - The Fog of War
How a military term turned into a standard element of video game design, seen not only in wargames but across the entire industry, thanks to a few key titles along the way.
25 min
Soundbite: Bruce Shelley's "inverted pyramid of...
Here's some great game design wisdom from one of the legends of the business.
2 min
22 - Wololo
The sound designers from Age of Empires I and II, brothers Chris and Stephen Rippy, tell the story behind the iconic "wololo" priest chant — for converting enemy units to your side — that's since become a popular meme, as I delve into its strange legacy.
22 min
[Bonus] The Rise & Fall of Ambrosia Software, '...
While I'm away on my honeymoon, here's my complete talk from PAX Australia 2019, on the rise and fall of legendary shareware publisher Ambrosia Software — the most underrated of the '90s indie publishing giants.
60 min
21 - Pitfall Harry, the Jungle Runner
How David Crane made influential platformer Pitfall! on hardware designed for Pong and tank games
31 min
20 - RealSound™ and Voice Characterisations
How a quest to put sound in a couple of games in the mid-1980s led to a revolution in computer game audio design and production.
35 min
Interview: Tom Lenting (Games History of the Ne...
I interview Gamegeschiedenis van Nederland 1978-2018 (Games History of the Netherlands) author Tom Lenting about his book and the history of the Dutch games industry.
44 min
19 - Premier Manager
On the rise and fall of the Premier Manager series of soccer management games — a former PC gaming juggernaut that lost its way amidst a shuffle of developers and publishers — and the part it played in the broader consolidation/homogenisation of sports games (of all kinds) over the past 20 years or so.
28 min
Soundbite: Former Sega CEO Tom Kalinske on tell...
When the United States Senate held congressional hearings on video game violence in 1993 and '94, Sega CEO Tom Kalinske went to bat in defence of the industry — and the medium.
4 min
18 - Hogs of War
Far from a mere "Worms in 3D", the underrated PlayStation gem Hogs of War was its own breed of madness. And a brilliant satire and clever design belied the fact that it was almost a very different game.
26 min
17 - Super Mario Kart
How Nintendo and its mascot created a genre, and a combat-racing franchise heavyweight, and in the process gave us a masterclass in game balance, with the best-selling 1992 Super Nintendo game Super Mario Kart.
25 min
16 - Sega Rally Championship
Sega Rally Championship changed everything for the racing genre, and the 1995 off-road arcade hit was an incredible game too. This is the story of its development, critical reception, and long-term legacy.
21 min
Soundbite: Henk Rogers on randomness and dilemm...
For the 35th anniversary of Tetris' original Russian version, I pulled out this clip from my interview with Henk Rogers — co-founder of The Tetris Company and the dude who got Tetris handheld and console publishing rights back in the 1980s. Listen for Henk's memories about the strategy inherent in the game's scoring system and the story of how they fixed a bias in the Game Boy version's random number generator.
5 min
15 - The Boss Button
Before computers had proper multitasking support and quick shortcuts for changing apps, playing games when you're not supposed to be could be super risky. But if there's one thing that's been a constant in technology, it's that wherever there are computers, there are also games. And for a while, in the 1980s and 90s, many game developers actually put in a special key command that would bring up a fake productivity screen. This is the story of the rise and fall of the boss button.
22 min
14 - Lode Runner
The story of how a terrible description of the Donkey Kong arcade game led to the creation of Lode Runner, one of the greatest games of all time and one of the earliest games with a built-in level editor.
24 min
Soundbite: Scott Kim shares a few secrets of pu...
Legendary puzzle designer Scott Kim discusses the process and principles of puzzle-making for games. This is excerpted from an interview I conducted while researching my book The Secret History of Mac Gaming.
4 min
Bonus: Game devs on the impact of the original Mac
For any of you who aren't aware, last week was the 35th anniversary of the release of the original Mac. I published a Medium article to celebrate the milestone, and here now you can listen to an audio version of that — 14 current and former game developers talking about the early Macintosh computer and how it inspired them to make something insanely great.
63 min
Episode 13 - Girl Games, Inc.
On the 90s girl games movement, and its assault on the status quo of the video game market, featuring Girl Games Inc founder and former filmmaker Laura Groppe.
40 min
Episode 12 - Microsoft Games
Before something like the Xbox could ever hope to exist, Microsoft first needed to learn how to be a successful games publisher on the PC. This is the story — or part of it — of how Microsoft got games, featuring input from four key Microsoft Game Studios people — Ed Fries, Stuart Moulder, Ed Ventura, Jon Kimmich — and Age of Empires co-creator Rick Goodman.
35 min
Soundbite: Spotting "the magic" (Jon Kimmich, e...
This is from my interview with Jon Kimmich, who worked as a "product planner" and "program manager" in Microsoft's games group in the late 1990s and then in Microsoft Game Studios until 2004. He's since continued to work in bizdev roles in the games industry and has lots of fascinating insights. Here he tells us about knowing when a game has that "magic" that means it's going to be a hit.
5 min
Episode 11 - Bomberman
On June 11th, 2018, character designer and artist Shoji Mizuno passed away. He was a key figure back in the 1990s at the now-defunct Hudson Soft, a renowned Japanese games publisher — having directed art or design, or sometimes both, on more than a dozen games in the popular Bomberman franchise as well as providing original character designs for the Beyblade anime series.Since this year is also the 35th anniversary of the release of the first Bomberman game on the MSX, I thought now would be a good time to look back on how the explosive puzzle franchise made its way into the world — and into the hearts of millions.
20 min
Episode 10 - Dogz
Frustrated by the unjustified furore that surrounded his tame interactive movie game, designer Rob Fulop turned to Santa for help. And with a clever business model he and his team at PF Magic invented a new kind of game, one in which you adopt and care for a digital animal -- a virtual dog or cat, or something more exotic, with a personality and needs and quirks not unlike a real one.
32 min
Episode 9 - Midwinter
On the late Mike Singleton and the importance of Midwinter and The Lords of Midnight, his two great works.
29 min
Episode 8 - The Tomb Raider grid (part 2)
Continuing the story from Part 1, this is how the original Tomb Raider's grid-based engine/level editor impacted on the series, on Lara Croft's rise to fame, and on the shifting sands of blockbuster game development. This episode also discusses the place that such a grid system has — or might have — in game design today. Featuring input from former Core Design artists and level designers Heather Stevens and Andy Sandham as well as programmer Gavin Rummery.
37 min
Episode 7 - The Tomb Raider Grid (part 1)
Every aspect of Tomb Raider comes back to the grid that lies beneath it — the majority of the puzzles; the platforming; the cavernous chambers and ruins and outdoor areas that provide a sense of isolation, of solitude and discovery; and Lara Croft's iconic acrobatic movement style. And yet it never would have happened if not for one pragmatic choice made by a programmer early in the game's development.This is the story of how that came to be, and how it made Tomb Raider…well, Tomb Raider.
31 min
Episode 6 - ROM Hack
At the dawn of emulation and the World Wide Web, a group of fans discovered the Nintendo and Super Nintendo games that never made it over from Japan. One of them decided to hack into a few of these and translate them, unofficially, with help from some friends -- starting with Final Fantasy II for the NES.
37 min
[Soundbite] Mark Ferrari on gatekeepers and a c...
The story of a cancelled X-Men TV controller game, as told by former LucasArts illustrator Mark Ferrari, who is a world-renowned and innovative pixel artist responsible for popularising multiple graphical techniques — including dithering, colour cycling, and palette shifting. And an inside look at the downside of having marketing-focused gatekeepers in charge of what products hit store shelves.
11 min
Episode 5 - FIFA 3DO
A story from the dawn of 3D sports games, and the forgotten link between the 16-bit isometric and 32-bit 3D EA Sports games — this is how FIFA 3DO transformed the way sport was represented in video games.
32 min
Episode 4 - Bug Salad
How a marketing guy at shareware game publisher Ambrosia Software ended up eating bugs in front of hundreds of people at Macworld New York 2000.
32 min
Episode 3 - Colour Cycling
How a talented illustrator with a fear of computers changed how games looked and perfected background animation techniques that no one before him had thought to use.
31 min
[Soundbite] Steve Capps on online social gaming...
Steve Capps, one of the creators of the Macintosh and a Microsoft executive in the 1990s, tells a story from his days of working alongside Bill Gates.
4 min
Episode 2 - Airfight
The story of the one of the earliest flight simulator games, Airfight, a favourite among the PLATO community back in 1973, based on an interview with its creator. Airfight was a multiplayer flight combat sim with wireframe graphics and real-time chat, and it was an influence on the first home computer flight simulator, subLOGIC's fittingly-named 1980 game Flight Simulator for the Apple II and TRS-80.
24 min
[Extended Interview] Jon Jordan on the evolutio...
[re-uploaded as mono] An extended interview with Pocket Gamer co-founder Jon Jordan about the evolution of App Store business models and iOS game design. Bonus/unused content from the Race to the Bottom documentary.
55 min
Episode 1 - Race to the bottom
In the early days of the App Store, game developers found themselves locked in a race to a $0.99 price point that none of them wanted to become standard. This is the story of how that happened, and how it affected mobile games going forward.
30 min