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The Doctor has been thinking about pixels. Those tiny sparkling lights that dance and weave all over your screen. They pirouette, shimmer, and twirl in my dreams, carrying me far away across the digital sea.

Why is the Doctor thinking about pixels, you may ask?

This week I received an extraordinary video that made me wax nostalgic about all the great titles I was lucky enough to be involved with over my two decades as a game developer:

I love how this video incorporates famous video games into the narrative. What amazed me was that I have some direct connections with three of them. Space Invaders was created by Toshihiro Nishikado of Taito Corporation. I was extremely fortunate to know this man and work with him as an associate producer during my time with Taito in Japan. He was a very quiet sort of guy who smoked alot, but he understood game development very well. We once had a heated discussion over the quality of fighting combo game play for the Super Nintendo title Sonic Blastman 2. But that was the rarity. He was actually very accommodating and provided me with the opportunity to champion the development of Lufia & The Fortress of Doom for Europe and North America. I also visited Nintendo of Japan in Kyoto on several occasions, where I met Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Donkey Kong, Mario, Metroid, and Zelda. I first experienced the legendary Donkey Kong arcade game beside the butcher counter at a small grocery store at the Cadboro Bay Village in Victoria, BC in 1981. It’s fair to say that my long affinity with video games started in that shop.

Tetris was created by Alexi Pajitnov. I’ll never forget how I met him at the 1989 Summer Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago. I was demonstrating Taito’s arcade conversion of Puzznic for the Nintendo Entertainment System. A bearded gentleman walked up and started asking questions about the game. I passed over the joypad and invited him to play. After a few minutes, I looked at his CES identity badge and realized who it was. We spent the next ten minutes having a long conversation about Puzznic and the history of Tetris.

During my time at Taito , I worked on many different versions of Arkanoid. I worked on conversions for the Amiga, Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and IBM. I’m most proud of Arkanoid DOH it Again for the Super Nintendo. When I first arrived in Japan, I was asked by my Japanese managers to help re-design it. Because I knew the game and its lore inside out, I set to work in trying to recreate the arcade experience. We even managed to incorporate a level construction set and some nice cinematics into the final product. Nintendo of America wanted to give the game an eight page spread for its magazine Nintendo Power. Only exceptional titles received that much coverage.

Since I saw Froggie jumping his way through the streets of New York City, what better way to end this story than with Buckner & Garcia’s take on Konami’s swampy arcade classic.

Go Froggie go! You gotta’ keep on hoppin’ til’ you get to the top!

Doctor Arkanoid

I LIVE!

Yes, the good doctor, contrary to rumours and the tabloid vultures at TMZ, is still very much alive and kicking! It has been too long since I last posted on the blog, and for that I apologize profusely. I have been greatly pre-occupied with trying to earn a living and complete my M.A. thesis at the same time. The good news is that I have almost completed the research phase of my work; the thesis has taken well over a year of effort so far. Thankfully, I should be completed by the end of April.

A few bits of interesting news. My first academic paper is now officially published! Today I received my copy of Educational Gameplay and Simulation Environments: Case Studies and Lessons Learned, published by IGI Global. My contribution to the textbook is a chapter called Video Games and the Challenge of Engaging the ‘Net’ Generation. It was a great challenge to sit down and write a complete chapter! Having one’s writing reviewed by a panel of editors was also a unique experience.

Last week the good Doctor was invited by CBC Radio to discuss a plan by DigiBC and the Washington Interactive Network (WIN) to collaborate on working together for the benefit of the video game industries in the Pacific Northwest. The industry has a history of being predatory and territorial. The current economic conditions and the increasingly competitive nature of the global game industry are likely catalysts for this situation.

CBC Radio DigiBC WIN Interview

There’s plenty of events and issues to catch up on. If only I had more minions to do my blog bidding!

Doctor Arkanoid

Copyright Notice

Anthony Gurr and Doctor Arkanoid - Revelations From the Inner Sanctum!, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Anthony Gurr and Doctor Arkanoid - Revelations From the Inner Sanctum! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.