cover image Creating Q*bert and Other Classic Video Arcade Games

Creating Q*bert and Other Classic Video Arcade Games

Warren Davis. Santa Monica, $24.95 (280p) ISBN 978-1-59580-105-0

Davis, an International Video Game Hall of Fame inductee, reflects in this entertaining debut on his years as an influential creator at the forefront of the “video game revolution.” He recounts his “earliest exposure” to computers, in high school in Brooklyn in the 1970s, when he learned programming on a device “the size of a desk.” As a freshman at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he discovered Pong, and later created his first game, a simulated gin rummy that was done via punch cards. After graduating, Davis landed his first programming job in 1982 at the arcade game company Gottlieb, where he helped create Q*bert—one of the most popular video arcade games of the ’80s—an accomplishment that led him to later achieve breakthroughs in automating the digitizing of graphics used in such games as Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam. Even in his more granular descriptions, Davis’s enthusiasm brings to the page the palpable excitement of the “golden age” he’d been a part of. From deciding on Q*bert’s moves (“Should I just keep him stuck at the edge [of the pyramid], or allow him to fall into nothingness?”) to procuring the flying footage needed for the alien invasion game Us vs. Them, every detail is parsed to convey the rigorous thought underpinning some of history’s most successful video games. Gamers will be fascinated. (Dec.)