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9:10am on Friday, 31st October, 2014:

Hornsea, not Hornsey


There's an interview with me on Eurogamer that went up yesterday. This is a quite sympathetic piece, and I'm generally very pleased with it. However, even though it was conducted first-hand, there are a number of minor errors in it. It'll be interesting to see how these propagate as truths in the coming years (if they propagate at all). I'll list them here, but note that because they're negative that may make it look as if I think the interview is negative. I don't, I thought the interview was pretty good, as I've just said.

The interview was done at the Develop Conference in July, I think, and was recorded. The trouble with recordings is that when you listen back to them, you hear the phonetics but not the spelling. This explains why the article says I came from Hornsey (in Essex) rather than Hornsea (in Yorkshire) and Roy Trubshaw's surname appears as Trubshore. I'm sure that when I said the names of games, I italicised my speech, too...

The interview was conducted by Simon Parkin, who is rather younger than me and so can be forgiven for not appreciating the full horrors of computers in the 1970s. I'm reported as having said that BP donated computers to local schools, whereas actually they donated access to a computer to local schools, computers in those days being room-fillers. Also, there's some perhaps understandable confusion over the word "class". I added levels to MUD because I wanted people to have a feeling of what a class structure felt like, in the sense of the UK class system; I deliberately didn't put in character classes, because those pigeonholed people in exactly the way I didn't want people pigeonholed. Also, my first-class degree (ironic use of the word "class" there omitted in the article) was indeed the highest recorded back then; I don't think it necessarily is any more, though, which means it's not the "highest ever recorded", just the "highest ever recorded at that point".

It's correct that the head of the MIT media lab was one of the first people to play MUD remotely, but that's the current head, Joi Ito. There wasn't a Media Lab at MIT until 1985, which is six years after Joi first played MUD.

Most of the MUDs in the 1980s were similar in the sense that they combined social play and game-like play. They were wildly different in their fictions, with even games in the same genre sometimes being further apart in gameplay than, say, The Secret World and WildStar.

That's really all I can find wrong, except maybe quibbling about who was the faster programmer between Roy and I (Roy coded faster but made more mistakes, so if you go with debugged-lines-of-code we're probably both about the same, and this is somewhat faster than the average for programmers). It gives a fair picture of what happened.

Sadly, computer games as a whole are seen by the cultural elite as low-brow, lower-class fare, so it's not as if there's any battle been won here...

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