‹ Alex Wiltshire

TK-80

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August 3, 2019

Yesterday my boy came out of his room in the cottage we’ve rented for our holiday in west Scotland. “Dad,” he said. “I finished Spelunky.”

14 years old, GCSEs ahead of him, standing at the very brink between child and adulthood. Voice breaking, sometimes sullen. He still breaks into open affection with a hug, or, more frequently, a joke, but now we feel we’ve earned it. We still tell him what to do, but maybe he needs it less than we think.

“I killed King Yama!” he said, eyes bright. “I shotgunned his hands away so he couldn’t throw skeletons at me, and then threw four bombs at his head.”

I’ve been rather remiss in noting this, but I’m currently working on a new book! Called Japansoft: An Oral History, it’s a spiritual follow-up to Britsoft: An Oral History, which means it’s a set of intimate reminiscences by members of the early Japanese game industry.

Later today I’m speaking at the Bath Children’s Literature Festival about writing about Minecraft. As I put it together I realised that I’ve written about Minecraft in many different ways: creativity-n-biz style features in Edge, practical guides about blocks, entertaining (that was the aim) vignettes about them, designing and explaining builds, fiction-based descriptions of mobs, almost-academic works about Minecraft’s creative culture. And then there’s my work as publishing editor at Mojang, in which I read and edit other people’s writing about Minecraft, from novels to sales blurbs.
A couple of quick nods to recent The Mechanic articles. Most recently I talked to Zach Barth about the excellent Exapunks, a puzzle game about coding viruses and using them to hack candy bar recipes and printshop accounts systems so you can publish zines. What about a puzzle game about writing viruses like Stuxnet, which was designed to attack a very specific kind of industrial controller used in Iranian nuclear centrifuges in order to destroy them?
Tomorrow night is the private view of the V&A’s Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt, an exhibition on which I was a curator back in 2013/14. I’m incredibly excited to see how it’s all come together. I was only working on the exhibition in its earliest stages, involved in pitching to the V&A’s board the concept of what videogames might look like in a gallery, in the hopes of unlocking a good budget and a big space.
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