I and the group of friends I hung out with grew up playing video games. I probably wouldn’t be involved with computers at all today had I not gotten hooked on the joy of moving little electronic blips around a TV screen. I can remember seeing a Pong arcade unit for the first time. I know first-hand the seductive allure of the electronic thump-thump-thump of advancing aliens in Space Invaders and I can remember the beginnings of a little video game publishing studio known as Electronic Arts.
There was a time when you bought just about anything Electronic Arts put on the market. Archon, Archon II: The Adept, Mail Order Monsters, Seven Cities of Gold, Dr. J and Larry Bird Go One on One and on and on and on. The game from EA that I remember most fondly, and that all of us played endlessly, was M.U.L.E. from the folks at Ozark Softscape.
The folks at Salon.com have put up an article titled “Get behind the M.U.L.E.” which talks about Dani Bunten who was lead designer on the game and how she was ahead of her time in game design and an inspiration for so many of today’s well known game designers. Big names like Will Wright (who dedicated The Sims to Bunten) and Sid Meier (Civilization I, II, and III, among other hits).
It’s a good read for anyone interested in the history of video gaming and it brought back a lot of good memories from my youth. Bill and I once sat up all night one weekend playing game after game of M.U.L.E. until one of us managed to best the other 2 out of 3. It’s one of the rare games from that time period I could still play today and get enjoyment out of.