May 6, 1989

Robert’s friend Jim came by the office with his three sons. Ages 3, 5 and 7, blond kids with runny noses and an insatiable lust for computer games.

I gave them the joystick and watched them spend a good half-hour trying to get through Level 1. It was instructive. Chris — the oldest, an extremely sweet-natured and gracious kid — was generous about sharing with his brother Stu, who insisted on repeating the first three screens himself every time, then handing the joystick to Chris when he got to “the sharp part,” as he put it.

“It’s so lifelike,” Chris marveled. I asked him if it was too hard. (This was after they’d died on the spikes about 50 times in the first half-hour.) He said “No, it’s just about right. But it’s challenging.”

The whole thing was very encouraging. For one thing, they liked it. I don’t mean they said they liked it; I mean they played it. These guys are my target audience. After watching them I’m more certain than ever that this game will be a hit.

The other thing is, I liked them. Lately I’d been starting to feel jaded about this whole enterprise – “Oh well, it’s just a computer game” – but watching Chris and Stu, I realized: These guys love games. They love games the way I loved movies in college. Even more, because they’re not interested in girls yet. Computer games are like the air they breathe. If I can make one that they can get excited about, that’s a real accomplishment. That’s something I can be proud of.

So I worked till ten with renewed enthusiasm.

The game is really turning out well, by the way. When you’re fighting a guard, forcing him back toward a ledge, and the spikes spring out below, and you’re down to your last unit of strength, and you push him off the edge – it’s incredibly thrilling. It’s like an Indiana Jones movie. There’s no other game that even remotely approaches this. If there’s any games market left by this Christmas, this one should corner it. (He said modestly.)

Level 3 RunJump from jordan mechner on Vimeo.

Posted on May 6, 1989 in Old Journals | 0 comments

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