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'F**k you,' said Madden, and 5 other true tales of gaming history from new book

BioShock didn’t always start with a plane crash

It’s hard to forget the incredible opening to BioShock, as an airplane crashes into the ocean, leaving you the sole survivor, barely making it to the surface. Surrounded by flaming wreckage, you swim toward the only form of safety around, a seemingly average lighthouse. Once inside you find out it’s your path to the incredible and terrifying world of Rapture. As amazing as that start is, it wasn’t part of the game until BioShock was months away from shipping, and it was something creator Ken Levine had to push really hard to finance.

Originally the game simply began inside the lighthouse with no preamble, but the team knew something was missing. After concocting the explosive start they scramble to find the resources to make it happen and get it ready in time for previews to the press. Despite the game already being delayed and having budget issues, 2K actually listened to the creative concerns and opened up their wallet. All Your Base Are Belong To Us has several moments like this that show sometimes when a willing company listens to astonishingly creative people, great things can happen.


Rockstar boss Sam Houser once worked for Simon Cowell


Above: A very rare appearance by Sam Houser as he talks up the potential of the PS3 a year before launch

The Houser brothers aren’t very fond of interviews or public appearances, but as the heads of Rockstar their presence is felt in the gaming world regardless. With the younger Dan in charge of the cuttingly satirical writing, Sam Houser runs the company and pushes the creative direction. But Sam’s original goal was working in the music industry, which through coincidence led to games. And despite the hilarious hate GTA heaps on pop culture dreck, Houser’s music career was pretty mainstream, as he worked with UK boy band Take That and producer/future American Idol asshole Simon Cowell.

Though he wasn’t being paid much, Sam worked hard for the stars, even filming a popular behind-the-scenes video for Take That. Soon enough Sam was pushing his way into the record label’s multimedia offerings that included a Scottish game developer known as DMA which eventually evolved into Rockstar, and that was that. Houser’s love for music is obvious when you hear the soundtrack to any Rockstar game, but we wonder if Sam ever watches American Idol or X Factor and dreams about what might have been. (Probably not.)


PopCap hated the name Bejeweled

Another group of college age upstarts, PopCap was originally a called SexyActionCool. The small group of developers was trying to find their way making PG-13 strip poker games and other trifles in the new world of browser-based gaming. After getting inspiration from a color matching game, the group started designing a title where you matched three or more gems of the same color, which would then be replaced by more gems as the player’s score climbed. They even had a great name for it: Diamond Mine.


Above: What was the original name for Plants vs Zombies? Undead Garden?

Unfortunately for the team, after they pitched it to publisher Microsoft, they were told that while the game was fun, the name needed to be changed. When the devs first heard the name Bejeweled, they were pretty disappointed. “That sounds like that crappy Bedazzled with Brendon Fraser that just came out. This sucks balls,” said one of the creators. But Microsoft had spoken and they learned to like it. So if you’re sick of seeing that name in headlines, you know who to blame.


All Your Base Are Belong To Us is filled with more stories like that, such as the drug-fueled creation of classic Atari games, the Housers’ famous mother, Miyamoto’s pachinko addiction, the strange rise and fall of PC adventure games, and much more. Obviously it can’t cover everything within its 300 pages, and I hope if Goldberg ever writes a second book on this subject he’s able to interview some Japanese developers outside of Nintendo, but I certainly learned much about the men and women that make the games that entertain the world. If these brief pieces of history interest you at all, I suggest picking up the book. You’ll probably learn something as well.


Above: Buy this book

May 12, 2011

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33 comments

  • Akutare - May 12, 2011 10:44 p.m.

    I didn't know any of these, this was a good read.
  • Randomwordcombination - May 12, 2011 10:47 p.m.

    Awesome idea for a book! TERRIBLE title, though.
  • ArkhanasGath - May 12, 2011 10:49 p.m.

    I can't believe it
  • Randomwordcombination - May 12, 2011 10:54 p.m.

    Henry, i'm checking out Easy Riders, Raging Bulls based on your recommendation. I still wish I could find a reasonably priced copy of Game Over!
  • EricBratcher - May 12, 2011 11:01 p.m.

    Another great videogame book is Steven Kent's "The Ultimate History of Video Games". It's very old school - barely gets to the PlayStation at all - but there's good stuff in there.
  • Nin10DOH - May 12, 2011 11:39 p.m.

    Naughty Dog, please get Crash Bandicoot back and make a series reboot. Thanks.
  • cosmicshambles - May 12, 2011 11:44 p.m.

    Terrible title. Casual gamers won't have a clue what it means and hardcore types will just roll their eyes and assume it's some kind of meme collection. I may well 'pick it up the book' though. Gotta love those typos. Seriously GR, I'm willing to check your spelling/grammar - say £20.00 per post?
  • EnragedTortoise1 - May 13, 2011 12:18 a.m.

    Muy interesante.
  • Rubberducky - May 13, 2011 12:42 a.m.

    Nice, will have to check it out. I liked Masters of Doom(just wish they had more technical details), and Game Over looks interesting but too bad its $26 for a used copy on Amazon!
  • shawksta - May 13, 2011 12:45 a.m.

    Sooooo, technically,if it wasnt for copyright infrigement,Mario wouldnt be the famous plumber we know today. As a system mascot crash is a little shaky but hating him entirely is so cruel, Uncharted is awesome but sucks were probably never gonna see crash again.
  • elpurplemonkey - May 13, 2011 12:49 a.m.

    I'll definitely check this book out, interesting stuff here.
  • shawksta - May 13, 2011 12:52 a.m.

    @cosmicshambles So your assuming all us gamers are force to be divided bythe words casual and hardcore and be only in those meanngs to know nothing about memes and sarcasm, thats retarted.
  • Pocotron - May 13, 2011 12:57 a.m.

    Actually Bandicoot is Australian.
  • TopNewt - May 13, 2011 3:50 a.m.

    History!
  • geo - May 13, 2011 4:13 a.m.

    It's Olive OYL Check the wiki /Olive_Oyl
  • ElDudeorino - May 13, 2011 4:13 a.m.

    This is an interesting article. It looks as if a lot of work was put into it. Well done, a good read.
  • Robusken - May 13, 2011 4:23 a.m.

    I saw this at a book store and was very hesitant about actually buying it but if its full of secrets like this...
  • QWERTYCommander - May 13, 2011 4:49 a.m.

    What about Enix making hentai games before it merged with Square?
  • 510BrotherPanda - May 13, 2011 5:20 a.m.

    Henry is into Kabuki theater? "Noh" way!!! This sounds like an interesting read. I will keep my eye out for it.
  • Tranquilbez34 - May 13, 2011 6:22 a.m.

    hahahhaha the Video for Crash Bandicoot made me laugh so much "Is that Italian" "No,Bandicoot is Australian"

Showing 1-20 of 33 comments

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