Interview: Kate Willaert (A Critical Hit)
05 Aug 2021 — Filed in: Interviews
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I speak to games historian and graphic designer Kate Willaert about her research and current projects, as well as her efforts to turn this work into a job.
We also voice our complaints about Google's Usenet archives, discuss the horrible world of YouTube publishing, the struggles of getting your work seen/read/heard as a content creator today, the value of a good hook for getting people interested in history, how to structure a historical narrative, our font choices for writing draft scripts, and much, much more.
Interview conducted 1 May 2021
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- Kate has talked lots about her Carmen Sandiego research, both on Twitter and her blog. Here's one example.
- Tetris: The Games People Play, a graphic novel about the history of Tetris
- The intro to Kate's (eventually) 50-part video series on playable female protagonists
- MobyGames tag for female protagonists (excludes games with multiple playable characters)
- Hardcore Gaming 101 feature on 1980s video game heroines
- The rules governing her 50-part playable female protagonists series are laid out in the intro video and this article
- Atari Compendium's collection of scanned magazines
- The Internet Archive's Magazine Rack
- The Usenet archives on Google Groups are now mixed in with the other groups and not easily browsable, but search still works
- The UTZOO-Wiseman archives on archive.org are a great resource for Usenet posts
- American Radio History
- Kate's Moonlander article
- Kate's YouTube channel
- I didn't go into specifics on the many significant games made in 1973, so here are several off the top of my head:
- Maze, arguably the first first-person shooter
- Spasim, one of the earliest 3D games
- Airfight/Airace, the first computer flight combat sim (covered on this show in ep2)
- Empire (the PLATO one)
- David Ahl's 101 BASIC Computer Games collection/book
- Lemonade Stand
- Kate's article/video on the origin of the term "gamer"
- Kate's Moonlander article has good info and sources for the electro-mechanical Lunar Lander game, but those of you looking for more detail may appreciate this article that contextualises its place in early coin-op game history (the article is about Nutting Associates, but Lunar Lander is mentioned at the end)
- Kate's best social media posts are highlighted in her newsletter. Two specific ones we mentioned:
- The "City Boy Mario" Twitter thread
- The Comic Sans Twitter thread
- As of August 9th, 2021, the best of these threads are available in an ebook that's part of a video game StoryBundle along with a bunch of other cool games books. Check it out.
- Here's an article with more info about the ideal number of characters per line
- They Create Worlds book — publisher website | My Amazon affiliate link
- They Create Worlds podcast
- The Ultimate Guide to Video Game History by Steven Kent
- We didn't talk about it, but the best big-picture, whole-industry history of games that I've read is Replay by Tristan Donovan
- (And while we're linking to books, note that my first book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, is getting an Expanded Edition from Bitmap Books, and my second book, Shareware Heroes: Independent Games at the Dawn of the Internet, is currently slated for Q2 2022 publication.)
- Kate's Patreon page
Thank you to my Patreon supporters for making this episode possible — especially my producer-level backers Carey Clanton, Joel Webber, Scott Grant, Rob Eberhardt, Simon Moss, Seth Robinson, Wade Tregaskis, and Vivek Mohan.
To support my work, so that I can uncover more untold stories from video game history, you can make a donation via paypal.me/mossrc or subscribe to my Patreon. (I also accept commissions and the like over email or Ko-Fi, if you're after something specific.)