They Were Our Gods

by PaulEMoz

I've always enjoyed writing, especially about videogames.  In fact, at the age of sixteen, I applied for a staff writer's job at venerable Commodore 64 magazine, ZZAP! 64.  I was rightly turned down.

For a long time, I thought that was the end of my writing career, mainly because I had no real outlet for my outpourings.  The advent of the internet, though, opened up creative writing to the whole world.  And so it was, in the year 2002, that my first new writing seeds were sown.

I'd been a fan of The Def Guide to ZZAP! 64 website since I'd discovered it.   Not only could you read scans of the original magazines, it also had a forum that was frequented by a couple of the original staff members!  When somebody came up with the ridiculous idea of creating a new issue, I was lucky enough to be asked onboard.  And so it was that my dream of writing for ZZAP! 64 was realised.  Now I wanted more.

Look ma, I made it!
I'd been a regular visitor to Eighties code legend Jeff Minter's YakYak message boards for a while, and from there, something exciting had been born.  Its name was Way of the Rodent, and it was an online gaming magazine.  OK, so there were loads of games websites, but this was different.  It was fresh.  It was funny.  It was special.  And it was fiercely independent, written by people with varied gaming backgrounds, but with one thing in common: their passion for gaming.

I was onboard with Rodent for a number of glorious years, until everyone grew up and real life took over, at which point it fizzled out (it's on the verge of a glorious comeback though, so keep your eyes peeled...).  But by now, I needed to keep writing about games.  So I set up one of those new-fangled blog things that everyone had been talking about.

Initially, it was called A Game A Day, and the title outlined my plans perfectly.  After a while, though, that goal became unrealistic.  A number of name changes later, the blog became A Gamer Forever Voyaging, which it has remained to this day.  I've written around 500 posts for the blog up to now... by my reckoning, that'll be at least 250,000 words.

But still I'm not finished.

I've heard talk that people find this image disturbing...
I've had this idea in my head for years now... an idea for a book.  I've never really had the confidence to start it before, but the title and concept have been rock-solid since day one.  Recently, though, word has spread that a documentary is in the works... a documentary which is basically my book idea, but on film.  It's called From Bedrooms To Billions, and it could be awesome.  But it might ruin my plans.

And so, it is now time for me, as my dad would say, to either shit or get off the pot.  If I don't start this thing now, either I never will, or it will be pointless.

I suppose it would make sense to outline my proposal at this point.

My intention is to write a book about computer games.  I know, it's already been done, many times.  There are some great books about games out there.  But one thing that they pretty much all have in common is that they lean heavily towards America and Japan.  In fact, from reading the books that are out there, you could be forgiven for thinking that nobody in Britain or Europe ever programmed a game in the Eighties.

My aim is to put that right.  We had an amazing games scene back then, with some incredible imagination and creativity at work.  Many of the best games of that era were born on these shores.  I don't think our programmers have had the credit they deserve.  Nor do I think their stories have been told anywhere near enough.  I'm planning to feature their stories, their games... and hopefully, their words.

Remember this? Plenty more where that came from when this is finished.
I'm at a disadvantage when compared to the documentary crew... they already seem to have the contacts.  I'm starting from scratch.  I don't have any contacts in the Eighties gaming world.  I'll be trying very hard to make those contacts, but I'll also be relying on word of mouth and helpful people that might be interested in this project.

I do have one advantage though.  I don't need any money up front for this.  No Kickstarter, no crowdfunding... I can just write, and write, and write.  Once it nears completion, then I'll have to think about money, unless someone is interested in publishing it... but that's a distance away.  I can just concentrate on the task at hand.  That said, I do have a full-time job and a family, so it's going to take a fair bit of time...

Still, I'm really excited about this.  I'll be writing about the games I played to death when I was a teenager, and the people that made them (and some of the people that reviewed them).  What could be more fun than that?  Well, hopefully for a lot of people, reading the finished product.

The book will be called They Were Our Gods.  I'll be posting updates here whenever anything happens.  If you're interested in how this is going, follow me.  Add comments and suggestions.  Spread the word, especially to any Eighties programmers you might know!  The more people I can talk to about this, the better the book will be.  Let's make sure the ride is more Stunt Car Racer than S.T.U.N. Runner.  Any questions?  That's what the comments box is for.  Other than that... this project starts now!