David Clark, because I found it delightful and thought that you other game developers out there might also find it delightful.
Here’s the background: In his graduate studies a year or so ago, David had an assignment to create a play out of an oral history. So he needed to collect stories from various subjects and then find a way to cut them and craft a short play (using only the transcribed interviews as text). For his subject he chose the history of games in the lives of several friends.
This 10 – 15 minute play originated out of 6 interviews ranging from ten to forty minutes each, all of which needed to be transcribed before he could edit them. Thus, some of the phrases are a little weird, namely “Tandy Color Computer II” turned into “candy-colored computer cube,” which is kind of awesome (the interview was over skype so I blamed my poor microphone for the mistranslation)
Adapted from the experiences and stories of
Maria – Doctor, 30
Lisa – Game Developer, 28
Scott – College Professor, 27
Beth – Costume Shop Manager, 28
Darlene – House Cleaner, 51
While edited, the material used in this script, with few exceptions, is the words of actual interviewees.
SETTING: A space. Three bodies..
Initially, as they speak, the individuals begin in the following positions: Darlene: sitting, computer in lap. Beth: Lying down. Lisa: Sitting, relaxed. Scott: standing, leaning. Maria: sitting, on edge.
Well, when the video games first started it was the Pong . . . thing . . . was the very first.
And it was a pretty stupid little boring game and . . . um . . .
I didn’t really play that much.
My parents had an Atari for as long as I can remember.
I think my earliest memories are watching my dad playing Space Invaders,
which I was never good at, and I was in awe of.
My brother and I had a candy-colored computer cube, which is very,
well you got it at Radio Shack.
I was obsessed with this game, but my brother was like
“the controls are too complicated for you to play. You are too little for it”
and I was like, “Waa. No.”
And . . . and then. . . it . . . the Colecovision had a more . . . racing games kind of things. Those were totally boring to me.
I probably started, I don’t know, the age of 8 or 9 with the Nintendo System.
You know, Super Mario Brothers, obviously, but Dino Riki was a big one in my family, we played Dino Riki a lot.
I was never very good at it.
When we were little kids . . . I had an N-E-S,
Although I don’t remember when we got it. I think it was a fairly new thing.
I remember, whenever I started hearing about the Nintendo,
and like the cool kids in my class,
which I never was,
started talking about like how there were mushroom forests
and you could jump on things,
and I was like “Yeah . . . I . . . have . . . that.”
But I did not.
Then we –
My parents got us an original Nintendo, as old people call it
A Nintendo Entertainment System as new people call it,
And basically every Friday night we’d go to the video store
and rent a game for the weekend
and it was like a big bonding ordeal for my brother and I .
I had an N-E-S.
I remember playing Duck Hunt.
And Super Mario Brothers.
because it was like a two pack on the same –
was it on the same disk?
Yeah, it was on the same – or cartridge I guess.
My mom played Super Mario Bros a lot and
she got really excited when she found the princess.
And she would take Polaroid photos of the tv screen when she found the princess.
That was a lie.
But then I got one for Christmas and it was like the best Christmas Ever.
And then . . . somebody bought a Tetris game. Tetris was just . . . fun to me.
I saw a commercial for Spyro the Dragon and –
for those who do not know me, Dragons are a very important part of my life.
So I bought a Playstation One.
It was the first console I’d ever bought with my own money.
I played the crap out of that game.
I . . . really like shooters, but not like . . . like sneaky shooters.
Like the Rainbox Six series and stuff like that and like Assassin’s Creed was fun.
I like Halo.
That was cool.
I like . . . I . . . I really. I kinda like killing things a lot.
I started playing Final Fantasy, on Playstation,
and from there kind of made the transition to World of Warcraft.
Which is basically almost all I play at this point.
Scott, College Professor in Biology.
I got into the whole fantasy genre in the end, I guess.
To not put too fine a point on it, it’s because it’s . . . it’s pretty.
It’s kind of . . . what – an escape from the world.
And it’s not just the fantasy genre, it’s also the style of game.
When they went to Final Fantasy Eleven it was ugly.
It was drab, like was, it just was dirt colors,
and that’s not what I’m going to the fantasy world for is dirt color and muted things. Then Final Fantasy XII did the same thing with dirt colors and not interesting and
I don’t know,
I ended up in World of Warcraft because everything is bright and vivid
and I don’t know, just prettier. More fun.
There was a quest line that was very popular in the day.
There’s the leader of the undead folk, the forsaken.
Well, you go on a quest and discover some of her past
and find like a lost piece of jewelry that you return to her
which reminds her of her past as a living being, instead of an undead person,
and she sings what became known as a song called “The Lament of the Highborn”
while spirits are going around.
Everyone kneels down to mourn the loss of, I guess, her humanity.
So it’s, Lady Silvanus is the leader, and you’re, you’re kneeling down,
mourning the loss of her humanity.
And people would make new characters just to do this quest over
and over again to see this moment of –
I mean, it just drew you.
It was, It was beautiful and part of the story and it just . . .
It was a good moment. It was a high moment in the game.
Maria, Medical Doctor
I’m kinda of a child, which fits, cause I’m going into Pediatrics
I like things that brightly colored and pretty. So, something like Halo –
I mean resolution, I really don’t care about resolution.
I want it to be fun and happy and I want things to be brightly colored
and I’m a positive reinforcement girl.
So when I do something,
I want it to make like a really rewarding sound, like “dur-doo-da-doo”.
So, I’m like a Mario Kart Girl.
Just the reveals in Zelda,
like when you unlock a new area and you have the sweeping camera view
and there are waterfalls and there are Zoras.
Like that . . . that works for me.
I have a PS2, primarily for Katamari Damacy,
because why do you not want to roll people up?
You make pretty stars
and while you’re doing it there are like people screaming as you roll them up.
Which I find, really therapeutic
after I’ve had like a stressful day
or a dissertation defense
Beth, Costume Designer and Shop Manager
I like an objective.
Like, I like having to strate – strategize.
I like, I like there to be a game to it.
I didn’t kind of like . . . oh, Grand Theft Auto.
Like, I liked playing it when I get to run over people and then run from the cops,
but I didn’t like doing the actual game because it was just like
pick up this person,
take this, you know drugs to this other person.
I don’t want be a messenger service.
You know, I feel like, I could just have a job where I do that.
Why would I want to do what I do normally.
I do that.
I don’t get to run into mobs and kill a whole bunch of people in my everyday life.
I mean, maybe, maybe if that was my job . . .
Maybe I’d want to play Viva Piñata or something.
If I was a mass murderer.
(BETH sits up)
This . . . is going to sound really stupid –
I apologize that you guys have to hear this –
Like when we were playing Mass Effect, right?
And you wanted to go back and try to beat it so that everybody lived?
And to me, it was important that in my plot line, that people had died.
The plot was important,
like that the characters dying, to me, was more important than like “winning” it.
Your point in the game is like,
you’re protecting these people.
So like, you’re the person who’s . . . who’s trying to protect them.
I felt like that was,
I don’t know,
that was important cause I was . . .
I was sad that they had died.
I am not someone who gains as much satisfaction out of feeling . . .
like I’m creating the story,
like choose your own adventure.
I’m not interested in that.
I like seeing the story that’s already created
And seeing how like there’s the interesting interactions between things.
I’m a character driven person.
Super Mario Brothers 2?
Difficult to understand.
I believe she’s male.
Is Birdo male, with the bow and the spitting of the eggs?
Birdo was ahead of his/her time.
You know what, we need to ask Birdo,
because gender is all about what you choose right?
Doesn’t matter if he’s a boy or he’s a girl,
it’s whatever he wants to be.
Darlene, operates a house cleaning service.
So Zelda just was very obsessed . . . obsessive.
It was like all I could think about was playing Zelda.
I didn’t want to stop to do house work.
(puts down computer)
And I was the mother of three.
I didn’t want to stop and cook.
I didn’t want to stop and go to bed.
(Stands, moves toward audience)
I stayed up all night and played Zelda
and when I did go to sleep
I dreamed of flashing swords
and beating hearts
and little marching men shooting things at me.
I didn’t have the first Zelda game.
But my cousin did.
And I thought that it was amazing.
There’s something about . . .
Even though it was an 8-bit game
And the graphics were like
I mean they were total crap, right?
(standing and moving toward audience)
But when you saw a fairy
And the circle of hearts went around her.
In my head,
you like found some beautiful thing
And like some magic was happening.
I’m someone that lives a lot in my head, and I’ve had a very overactive imagination.
I don’t know why Zelda more than James Bond, which I was never very interested in
Or the Donkey Kong which I couldn’t stand.
It was like . . . the . . .
the Zelda just drew me in.
It was like there was this story line to it –
Maybe it was because I was good at
It was a story.
You know, it gave us a little story.
You know, there was a princess and there was a hero and there was missions.
Lisa, Game Developer
The first Halo.
With all my friends, playing like every day.
That’s just what we did.
And it was such a unifying part of my life.
And I remember, you know,
Playing and being the one that couldn’t steer good
And was always getting killed.
And the idea that –
Four player split screen multiplayer was the way you played back then
It wasn’t –
Online multiplayer for consoles didn’t exist
So that was just how you played
It was such an important part of my life
And like the friendships I formed around that
And like the balance of that
Compared to the amount of work I was doing at school at the time
And it was just a huge like important social thing
(talking to audience, but also others)
I actually really like playing co-op games.
Because I like playing with somebody else.
Like it’s . . . I don’t know.
It’s like why don’t you go to the movies by yourself?
Game development is a huge team effort.
More so than anything else I’ve ever done
In that you have people with very, very different skill sets
Having to work together to create a specific experience
So being able to collaborate and sort of connect over shared experiences
And figure out what experience you want your players to have
And how does that relate to what I’ve had.
I have games that I have strong sentimental ties to,
just because they were very good social tools . . .
like Super Mario Strikers for Gamecube.
Super Mario Strikers is a soccer game.
It’s four player co-op
It was never referred to as Super Mario Strikers.
It was only called soccer.
And this was a game that you could play and it-
I think it was a very good team building exercise
Like, my friends would come over
And at this time we all had grown-up jobs
Like we were software developers,
Or graduate students
Or medical student
Like we had things we were supposed to be doing
But it’s a way that you could interact, I think
Face to face
Although my dog hated it because there was lots of shouting.
You know, designing single player experiences
Or like some games designed with the idea that
You might be playing the single player campaign
But they’re designing with it in mind that
You are not alone.
Like I know, Uncharted developers,
Had that in mind when they were making it such a cinematic game
Cause they had the idea that not only is it fun to play
But it’s fun to spectate as well.
You’re constantly about:
What is the experience I want the players to have
And how can I make that experience like . . .
A positive one through the design of the game.
The social aspect of World of Warcraft is a big draw in that . . .
It’s not just you working alone.
It’s you working in conjunction with –
You know, if you’re running dungeons
A group of four other people
Who all have jobs to do
And if everybody does their job
If everybody doesn’t do their job,
Then you fail.
Mostly with completely random people
With everybody just coming together
Doing their job
And then going their separate ways
Occasionally, you get someone who is not good
People are usually willing to explain things.
People are generally willing to help, you know
Everybody become better, so that
the group can be successful
And if somebody is completely out of it
You can kick them out.
Making games is all about wanting to create something
that someone else is going to experience.
So it’s very . . . serving of others.
You don’t always get to make the games that you like to play
It’s a lot of work.
It’s a lot of nitty gritty team work
It’s toil and effort.
And . . . but being able to like see that you’ve made something
And millions of people have had that experience
That you crafted.
It’s just sort of mind blowing.
I mean, just working in a children’s hospital
I think that as a concept video games are important to me
I can see, particularly with our long term illness kids –
Who have blood disorders or cancer disorders
That they look forward to the time when the can go to the all-star room
The All Star Room? It has different names in different hospitals
But in the Long’s Children Hospital of the University of California in San Francisco
The All Star room is the children’s technology room
And they can go to the All Star Room
And they have a lot more consoles, including the Wii
So they can play online with other kids in –
Who are in other hospitals
So that’s a way to feel connected and socialize which is very important particularly from
You know, like six to thirteen,
If you spend all your time in the hospital
That’s my history with video games.
And I think that is the extent of things –
It’s an interesting way of telling a story.
It’s a way of like learning about each other and learning about your relationships through playing games.
The History of Lisa and Games. Done.
(The actors freeze, as if the play is about
You asked what game was important
And I didn’t even think about it
Cause I was thinking about childhood.
Portal has influenced the way that I like talk
and interact with people more than any other game.
Glados is like a computer
Like she’s an AI
In a machine
In like a video game.
Not in the real life
In a gideo –
Video game spinoff
And it has like totally influenced the way I talk to people
Whenever I talk to random people
Like I can tell if they’ve ever had Portal in their life.
And I’m like, it’s a shame
Cause I just wasted a kick-ass Portal reference on you.
Porta 2, man.
And in my relationships
I’m sure that . . .
That . . .
Let’s see what . . .
What is it?
“I’m sure we’ve both said things that you are going to regret.”
I’ve used that.
Glados says that.
I’ve used that in my relationships.
And . . .
And, I’m like you know what?
You had a chance for us to end this argument on good terms.
But since you didn’t get that Portal 2 Trailer reference
It’s over for you.
Well, I mean –
I think that the cool thing was that –
The cool thing was –
Portal’s beyond good.
It was clever,
you know, I feel like –
It was so clever –
So many games aren’t clever.
Like they’re just like,
Oh, you’re in a war. Shoot things
This was –
Oh, you’re trapped by a psychotic computer
You’re trapped by a psychotic lesbian robot
Can you escape?
That is like flinging things at you and you can –
Promising you cake –
Promising you cake.
And it was a puzzle game.
It was like –
Yeah, puzzles –
It was a totally like new way –
They made you –
They made you invest
of thinking of puzzle games –
on the emotional level by showing you that other people had died –
Trying to escape this.
And then there are parts even in the song
Where it’s like
“And these points of data make a beautiful line
and we’re out of beta, we’re releasing on time”
Isn’t that the dorkiest thing ever?
(Still Alive begins to play)
And, I think I use that to screen potential mates.
It’s not a bad screen.
It’s not. It’s a really good screen.
Please end it with that song.
*Ending note. The actress who played Maria played Portal for research and then became obsessed with it. SUCCESS.