I’ve been teaching a rhetoric of pop culture class this semester. Instead of focusing on videogames, I’ve been focusing on another of my favorite pop culture phenomena–the zombie. One of our textbooks is by Kyle Bishop, whose book American Zombie Gothic earned him a PhD. One of the most fascinating aspects of his argument is that horror films are a “barometer” of our cultural anxieties and a panacea; a sort of displacement therapy. It’s been awhile since I read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, but apparently dreams work something like this: (a) You get stressed out over something that you’re just not ready to cope with, such as a good friend trying to sleep with your wife. The thought horrifies you, so you try to repress it. (b) At some point that day, you see a shark documentary. (c) That night, you dream that you’re out swimming with some dolphins, and suddenly one of them turns into a shark and starts pursuing you. Thus, your subconscious mind has put together an allegory for you–the dolphin turned shark is your friend who is trying to “kill you” by possibly destroying your family. Take this concept, apply it to a cultural rather than individual level, and you can see how we might find it easier to deal with zombies on the screen than dwell on the real possibilities of pandemic, economic collapse, or our prisons “overrunning” with deadly pot smokers.
As you probably know by now, I’ve decided to take the advice of several Matt Chatters and set up my own Patreon page. Patreon is still new enough to elicit more head scratching than enthusiasm at this point, but I think once you understand it, you’ll agree that it’s a better way to support folks like me than PayPal or Kickstarter. Here are my thoughts on it.
This week’s episode features Glenn Wichmann, co-creator of Rogue–one of the most important and influential role-playing games ever. We talk about how he learned the ropes, met up with Michael Toy and others, and ended up making the game that started an entire genre of “roguelike” CRPGs–that’s still going strong decades later!
See Matt’s ale List and Recommendations here.
Download the mp4 here.
Sure you love CRPGS…But have you ever wondered what it’d be like to be the mastermind behind those dungeons you love exploring? To be the evil warlord yourself? In 1997, Bullfrog Productions gave us that chance in the form of Dungeon Keeper, an awesome DOS game that became a cult classic.
Buy the game here and support Matt Chat at no extra cost to you. It’s only $5.99!
Download the MP4 here.
It really sucks when something you’re passionate about–and have to constantly defend to family, friends, and possibly a shrink–goes mainstream. Suddenly, you’re surrounded by people who normally wouldn’t glance in your direction giving you something like…What is that weird sensation you get sometimes–respect? “Oh, that guy was into classic games a long time before anyone else. I think he even has a Commodore 64 and an Apple II!” You’re probably put off by this unusual attention, but just as you’re warming up to the idea that–hell–maybe you are somewhat worthy of the veneration, along comes that bastard Mr. Kewl Dawg.
What did the author of the most famous BBS door game of all time do after the decline of the BBS? This week I’m back with Seth Able Robinson to chat about Dink Smallwood, a satirical CRPG that became a cult classic among PC gamers. We also chat about his other projects, which include Teenage Lawnmower and Funeral Quest.
Download the episode here.
Since my last post, I’ve been thinking more and more about what I’ve been doing “wrong” with Matt Chat, at least in terms of building an audience. Many folks have pointed out, and I think correctly, that with the caliber of guests I have on the show–and I’ve been maintaining that for years now–the show should be doing much better. There are countless guys out there doing simple reviews and let’s play type videos who are simply obliterating my views and subscriber lists.
Growth. It happens when the kid in the caveman costume stops hitting his big sis and starts crying because she slapped him back too hard. That’s a sister’s job, really. And a good thing, too. The only thing more pathetic than a crying little boy is an insufferable, prizewinning, highly successful asshole who never got smacked to tears with his own stupid foam club.
One of the favorite things I like to ask my guests on Matt Chat is about their gaming history. What games did you play that sealed your fate as a lifelong gamer? I could talk about that for awhile, actually–because some designers admit to (really) not liking games very much anymore. My guess is that they’re into it mostly for the technical challenge of making them or the economic challenge of selling them. But anyway, on to my own CRPG History!
The earliest memory I have of CRPGs is a cassette tape my dad had labeled “Dungeons & Dragons.” I believe it was a game for the VIC-20 we had at the time. I asked him about it, but received only the mysterious response, “It’s too complicated for you now. You’ll need to be older to play it.” There are few things you can tell a 6 year old that will stimulate a lifelong interest better than that. However, sadly, I never played whatever that game was.
Seth returns this week to talk about his epic BBS door game, Legend of the Red Dragon. We then chat about his take on Tradewars, another door game called Planets. We end with a discussion of LORD II, an ambitious sequel that failed to make the impact of the original.
Download the mp4 of this episode here.