Archive for Interviews

An interview with Jake Elliott

I interviewed game developer Jake Elliott in time for last year’s Indie Games Festival, but I never posted it anywhere. I knew the interview was too, too long for publication, okay, but it was just so great, I didn’t want to let any of it go. (I interviewed Jake over Skype during the big Chicago blizzard.)

Now, there is a far more readable version of this interview at; in the meantime I got special permission to post the less-edited version right here.

Jake’s latest work, The Penguin’s Dilemma, will be a playable installation at Super Button Mashers, a gallery exhibit opening February 11 at Chicago’s OhNo!DOOM. Don’t miss it! I’m serious!

Jenn: Let’s see. Uh, so. I should have reread my notes before this.

Jake: Oh, that’s cool. I don’t have any notes to work from.

Ha! That’s awesome. Also I am really bad at interviewing. I’m okay at having a conversation, though?

Well, okay! That’s fine!

So you’re actually nominated in [last] year’s IGF Nuovo category for A House in California. And this is an adventure game with really simple images, and simple, kind of graphical parser commands?


And I played Hummingbird Mind yesterday, and in comparison it seems like that game is simpler to play? Because it’s maybe all [conversation] trees? But visually it’s actually more complicated?

Yeah. It’s, like, photos….

Yeah, it’s photos, right. Exactly. So I guess I was curious about the aesthetic decision you made with House in California.

I mean, mostly it was a strategy about what I thought might be—like, I don’t really have much skill in rendering graphics and drawing, or anything like that, so it all kind of started as a strategy about how I could do everything in a game, for myself, without borrowing graphics from other people. In something like Hummingbird Mind, they’re all Creative Commons licensed photos from Flickr that I did some processing on.

Oh! I didn’t realize that. I actually—
Yeah, I don’t call it out anywhere, but I mean, I credit the people in the—

No, I thought maybe you actually, um, had just, like, wandered around your apartment or neighborhood…

Right. I wanted to do something like that, but then I didn’t, and I just stole most of them. Or borrowed them, or whatever. Used them. [laughs]

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The man behind the gears: Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum

I live in the Metro Detroit area. It isn’t particularly well known as being a mecca of gaming, but we do have one of the finest, and weirdest, homages to gaming’s past within our lands.

San Franciscans have the Musee Mechanique.

We have Marvin’s.

The following is an interview I did with the business’s proprietor back in 2007. I wrote an article about it, but wasn’t writing for anything covering the beat. Having just found the article, however, I’ve touched it up a bit and provide to you the story of this odd little place tucked away in the suburbs of Farmington Hills.

Marvin Yagoda is a busy man.

Dressed in an off-white shirt and suspenders, Yagoda is moving all over the place as children and adults both crowd his workplace, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum.

“I’ve got three birthday parties today,” he tells me. He is working on a small television displaying the tale of the world’s tallest man.

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