NEON The Videogame

Here’s the podcast interview I did with the show “Game is a 4 letter word”. In Episode 8, I tell how I accidentally ended up designing Atari videogames in the early 1980s. (Jump ahead to the ten minute mark for my segment of the episode.) The company that hired me, General Computer Corporation, is most famous for creating Ms. Pacman. But most people don’t know that GCC created almost all of Atari’s home cartridge adaptations of the most popular arcade games.

It was my first job after college. I was set loose and told to create and design an original arcade game. I kind of took the job for granted at the time…but looking back, WOW! How awesome is that? In the podcast interview, I describe the creative process that resulted in my game NEON–a game that came really close to going into production. And, I tell the sad story of how the creative process wound its way down to a failed dead end.

After the NEON project ended, my next job was to design the Atari 7800 cartridge adaptation of Food Fight. But, that’s a story for another day…

Applied Improvisation

I just returned from giving a keynote at the Applied Improvisation Network conference, in Chicago–the legendary world headquarters for improv theater.  This is a fascinating and fund group of performers and teachers.  I was delighted to discover that improv has gone international–lots of folks from Europe, Asia, and Australia had flown in for the event.

It’s an unusual experience to be surrounded by people who are experts in making YOU look good (one of the hallmarks of an experienced improviser).  You let your guard down and relax.

In my keynote, I talked about how I was the designer of the FoodFight videogame home cartridge for the Atari 7800.  At the evening banquet later that night, five actors created a skit and improvised characters from the videogame (including the chefs and the ice cream cone).  I was invited up to play the role of the main character, Charlie Chuck…and yes, I made it to the ice cream cone!

The speaker that night was Mick Napier, founder and director of Chicago’s legendary Annoyance Theatre (and also an active director at Second City).  He was phenomenal, and provided honest and profound insights into acting, directing, and the Chicago scene.

Call one of these folks if you’re looking to make your organization more collaborative, more trusting, or to enhance communication skills throughout a group.