Gamasutra has an excellent interview with ralph baer (father of videogames) up now, conducted by benj edwards, who runs Vintage Computing. It’s one of the more fun interviews I’ve read in a while. baer is not planning on retiring anytime soon, maybe ever, and has lots of things to complain about.
He created the path for videogames to become what they are after all, no matter what “his highness” nolan bushnell says. The interview actually begins with details about baer’s background, leaving germany as a child and fixing televisions for cash. Let’s have some quotes!
GS: I read that you got a Marksman’s Medal in the Army…
RB: Yeah, well we all had to fire for record, you know. I started out in Combat Engineers, because I was five-foot six-and-a-half then, and all the other guys are six-footers. They’re all Tennesseans, and Georgians, and Alabamans. And here I am…little Jewish boy. But I managed to hit the target just as often as they did with an M1, so I got a Marksman’s Medal.
GS: Do you have a favorite video game even though you’re not a game player?
RB: I don’t play. Recently, one of my grandsons brought an Xbox with him, and we played a race game. Well, I couldn’t manage that damn thumb joystick. I was always hitting the walls. I couldn’t steer the car worth a damn. After about fifteen minutes, I said “Forget it , I’ve had enough.”
The interview is good all the way through, with actual serious bits in, such as his thought that games were always aimed at adults, the sneaky way he had to operate in the early years in order to even develop games while in a military organization, and the uselesness of the U.S. patent office. For an 85 year old man, he’s incredibly sharp – actually, for any man, he’s pretty sharp. Oh and the picture above was taken by me at the Gphoria awards show in…maybe 2005? That’s william shatner to his right.