Category Archives: My So-Called Life

Rochester Ho!

No new article this week, I’m afraid. I’ve been planning for some time to take a bye week in January, but had thought it would be next week rather than this one. The next article will, however, be a bit of a technical one, and it seemed wise to give it a round or two of peer reviewing before I published. So, that one will be coming out next Friday instead of this one.

But I should tell you why I planned a by week in the first place because it’s quite exciting (for me, anyway). I’ll be spending next week at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. They’ve assembled an impressive archive of internal papers and other documents there from quite a number of prominent players in the games industry of the 1980s and 1990s: SSI, Sierra, Brøderbund, just to name a few that most interest me. If all goes as I expect, what I collect next week will inform my writings here for months or even years to come. A trip like this wouldn’t be practical without your support through Patreon and PayPal, so thanks so much for that!

Be seeing you!


A Little Christmas Gift

This being the time of year for such things, I have a little surprise that I hope some of you might really enjoy.

I get asked on a fairly regular basis whether this blog will ever become a book — or, more likely, a series of books. While I do have aspirations in that direction, producing even one proper book is a big task that’s hard to turn to now when I’m so focused on this chronological journey we’re on. In the meantime, I can now at least offer you a series of ebooks that simply compile my older articles. Their existence is entirely down to the efforts of reader Richard Lindner, who developed all of the tools to automatically convert the blog’s articles.

Despite his talents, the ebooks are inevitably a little rough around the edges. In particular, multimedia elements — pictures, screenshots, movies, audio — may display imperfectly or not at all on many e-readers. Nevertheless, I hope some of you will find them handy for reading in bed or taking to the beach without bullies kicking sand in your laptop. Richard and I couldn’t quite decide whether to include readers comments or not — they’re a huge and hugely appreciated part of the online experience, but arguably ruin the flow of the ebook versions — so we decided to let you decide, by offering versions both with and without them. You can also choose between Kindle and epub versions, whichever suits your device or software. More ebooks will be appearing as I finish writing about each historical year. I just have a few articles to go to finish up 1987, so you can expect that volume to be joining the others quite soon.

Thanks for being such amazing readers! Your support means the world to me. If you are a regular reader who’s made this blog a part of your weekly routine and you haven’t yet pitched in, please do think about starting the new year with a Patreon pledge or a one-time PayPal donation — assuming, of course, that your personal circumstances permit. For the price of a good cup of coffee each month you can support this ongoing serious, nuanced examination of the history of gaming, and contribute to my own slow crawl toward earning a living wage from what’s long since become as time-consuming as any other full-time job.

To the 160 of you (as of this writing) who have signed up through Patreon and the many others who have donated through PayPal:an extra special thank you! It warms my writerly heart to know that so many of you like what I do enough to voluntarily pay for it. I’ll continue to strive to be worthy of your support.

I wish you all a great Christmas or winter holiday of your choice, and a happy New Year to boot. And I’ll see you all again in a couple of days, with a proper article this time.


Patreon Security Breach

As some of have probably already heard, there was a recent security breach on the Patreon website. Apparently a mirror of the site that was intended for testing and development purposes was left exposed on the Internet at large and hacked. Data dumps of the whole thing are already out there on the usual torrent sites. Patreon claims — and I have no reason to doubt them — that no credit-card numbers or other financial information was exposed. Password hashes were stolen, but were encoded in such a way that it would take a staggering amount of computing power to crack any of them. Your email address and possibly your home address, if you provided it to the site, were stored in the clear as I understand it, and thus likely have been compromised.

I’m very, very sorry about this, as I’m sure is Patreon as well. They’re doing a great service that’s made a big difference for my life and for this blog, but they’ve been growing fast and obviously some things just got away from them. As for the people who do this sort of thing… I just don’t get it. Why not create something instead of tearing things down all the time?

At this point the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, so there’s not much to be done other than to change your password on Patreon, as well as anywhere else you might have been using the same password. If the damage is limited largely to lists of names and email addresses, it’s not so bad as these things go I suppose. If I hear more, and certainly if I have any reason to suspect it’s worse than that, I’ll let you know.




It’s hard for me to believe that it’s now been about three-and-a-half years since I started this blog. Over that time it’s come a long way. After beginning with no real direction, I found my forte within the first six months or so, and the blog evolved into the grand history you all know and (hopefully) love. Along the way I like to believe I’ve become a better writer, and I know I’ve become a much better and more thorough researcher, with many more sources at my disposal. I must admit that some of those early articles are a bit painful for me to read now (I really need to do something about that someday). But best of all, I’ve found you folks, a core group of loyal readers who seem to grow by just a little bit every month. It hasn’t been a meteoric rise, but it has been a steady one and a fun one. You’re the best readers anywhere, you know, almost unfailingly polite and witty and perceptive and helpful, and I appreciate each and every one of you enormously. Every writer wants, more than anything else, to know some people out there are reading. Thanks for that!

So, having buttered you up, let’s move on to the real subject of today’s post. After some months of dithering over the question, I’ve decided it’s time to take the next step in my blogging career. As you can probably imagine based on the length and depth of the articles I post, the writing and research for the blog  absorbs many hours of my time per week. If I can start to bring in a little bit more, and on a more consistent basis, I’ll be able to devote more time to my work here, which will translate directly into more and better articles for you to enjoy. Imagine if you will a sliding scale of hours devoted to computer-gaming history that terminates in my being able to make it my full-time job. I’m afraid I’m a long way from there, may indeed never reach it, but every little bit of income the blog does manage to generate shifts that scale just slightly in a positive direction, resulting in more articles published, more games and other topics covered, and more depth to that coverage.

I’ve therefore decided to add Patreon to the existing PayPal donation system. As many of you probably already know, Patreon is a way for readers like you to support the work of creators like me through something like the old patronage model that used to fund art and literature back in the day. It has the advantage for me that it represents a steady income stream I can count on on a per-article basis, whereas one-off donations tend to move through cycles of feast and famine that are impossible to plan for. You need only go to my fresh new Patreon page to sign up. If you do so, you’ll be automatically billed for each substantial article that I write for the blog (i.e., articles like this one are not included). You can decide how much that amount will be. I’m certainly not asking you to break the bank here; a dollar or two (or the equivalent in your local currency) is fine, although if any of you love the blog and are flush with cash I certainly wouldn’t balk at more. On the other hand, some of you may want to pay a bit less, maybe just a dollar or two per month. I unfortunately can’t offer monthly and per-article payments simultaneously, but there is a way around it: just set a per-article level of $1 and also set a monthly limit of $1, $2, or whatever you like. This will have the same effect, with the added advantage that you don’t pay anything if I stop blogging for a month for some reason.

Patreon supporters will gain access to a special members area of my Patreon page, where we can interact a bit more informally and where you can have a bit more of a say on certain things that happen around here. I’ll give sneak previews from time to time of upcoming articles, ask for your input on games and topics worthy of coverage, and if there’s interest host occasional meet-ups via Google Hangouts or the like.

The PayPal donation button to the right will not be going away, so if you do still prefer to make a single lump-sum donation by all means feel free. And whether you can contribute financially or not, I could also use your help in one other way. As just about everyone must realize by now, I’m terrible at self-promotion, and worse at social media. So, anything you could do to help me get the word out to potential supporters would be hugely appreciated.

And that’s that, except to say, as Bartles and Jaymes did back in the year of which I’m writing these days, “Thank you for your support.” Next up in the on-deck circle: a certain spacefaring epic.


Amiga Magazines Free (Plus Shipping…) for the Asking

Just before we left the U.S. for Denmark almost four years ago, I bought a cache of old Amiga magazines on eBay to help with the book I was planning to write there. By the time we moved to Norway almost two years ago, the book was finished, and so I deposited the magazines at my in-laws’ house near Flensburg, Germany. (There are a lot of different countries in my life these days.) Now said in-laws are hoping to move soon, so I need to do something with them. I just don’t have the space to keep them, especially as we’re likely to be moving yet again quite soon. Nor do I need them anymore in hard-copy form, because they’re all now archived on my computer. So, I’m wondering if anyone wants them.

What they are, specifically, is almost every issue of AmigaWorld and Amazing Computing from the first issue until just shortly after Commodore’s 1994 bankruptcy, in (relatively) gently used condition. I say “almost every” for the sake of caution, as there may be just one or two issues of either or both magazines missing, but no more than that. There’s also some sales catalogs, a few issues of an early desktop-video magazine, and some other loose bits.

So, I’m willing to give the whole collection to anyone who can arrange for their transportation. That, alas, could be the sticking point. They fill at least eight or ten boxes (maybe more), and they aren’t light. Shipping would likely be expensive within Europe, very expensive internationally. The ideal scenario would be someone willing to pick them up in Flensburg. I’ll be there this Friday and Saturday only, but I could arrange for one of my in-laws to be there most days in the near future.

If you want them, send me an email using the link at the right and tell me how you propose to get them. Should there be a rush I’ll decide based on some combination of first come first serve and practicality. And if you know anyone else who might be interested, please tell them about it. If I can’t find them a home I’ll probably have to take the magazines to the recycler, much as that would pain me. Hundreds of magazines just aren’t compatible with the Traveling Scandinavian Roadshow that is our lives at the moment.

More proper Digital Antiquaria for ya soon…