Category: Blog

At Mysterium 2015 Blog category

Hey New Englanders! I will be in Boston this weekend from Thursday, August 6th to Sunday, August 9th for Mysterium, the annual Myst convention. Yep, it’s still happening! This is my first year going, and I’m looking forward to meeting some adventure game fanatics and talking about some of the out-of-the-way favorites I love so much.

I doubt that anyone reading will be attending, but on the off-chance that you are or are in the Boston area and interested in saying hello, please drop me a line! At the least, consider this a public warning that I’ll be talking to strangers about The Journeyman Project and Welcome to the Future.

Welcome to The Obscuritory 3.0! Blog category

You might notice that things look a little different around here. Say hi to the newly redesigned Obscuritory!

This is the third theme the blog has used since 2008. I’ve been tinkering on this for a while now, and I’m especially happy with the results. Everything looks roughly similar – mostly because I love the Windows 3.1 setup motif – but the blog is now cleaner, easier to navigate, mobile-friendly, and compliant with HTML 5 standards. In comparison, the previous layout was heavily modified from a broken template that briefly had adware and couldn’t run Javascript. Whoops!

There are other little tweaks throughout too, like the improved menu which links to articles tagged as “recommended.”

The theme isn’t 100% finished yet (a few of the header images are broken, and assorted bits and bobs need tweaking), but I wanted to get this version out anyway. It looks really pretty, and I’m glad to give the look a refresh!

(For the record, the theme is named Orbital Library, after an area from one of my favorite games…)

The Obscuritory at Awesome Con! Blog category

Awesome Con logo, courtesy of Awesome Con

Time for some big crazy news: I’m hosting a panel at this year’s Awesome Con in Washington, DC!

Awesome Con is a comic and pop culture convention that has absolutely exploded since it started just two years ago. I’ve gone to both Awesome Cons held so far, and it has been exciting to watch a small artist exhibition grow into a juggernaut with over 50,000 attendees expected this year. As a longtime fan, I’m proud to be one of the panelists contributing to the growing gaming presence at this… well, awesome event.

Much like at MAGFest, I’ll be speaking about great obscure games and why they’re important to gaming culture and the pop culture landscape in general – especially in how they can breed positivity and inclusiveness. Expect to hear about some old favorites as well as other titles tailored to Awesome Con’s sensibilities. I strongly believe that obscure games can invigorate the future of gaming if we play and share them, and I’m ecstatic to spread the obscurity gospel at such a big venue.

(This isn’t a gaming-specific event, so I want this panel to be approachable by anyone interested in games. I’ll consciously avoid jargon and cultural inside jokes when possible.)

The panel, “Obscure Video Game Gems (and Why They Matter),” will be held on Saturday, May 30th, at 5:30pm in Room 102A.

Awesome Con is held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown DC, easily accessible through public transit. Get tickets before they run out! (If you need upselling, the Ponds from Doctor Who, George Takei, and William Shatner will also be there!)

I’ll be at Awesome Con all weekend, and I’ll probably show up in costume and enter a tournament at some point. Greatly looking forward to seeing all the shining, wonderful faces there. This is a fantastic event with a huge variety of content and a strong commitment to being a safe space for geekdom of all walks.

NYC dwellers: come to the Theresa Duncan re-launch party! Blog category

Screenshot from Smarty

Hey sports fans! Back in November, I posted about a crowdfunded preservation program for three CD-ROM games for young girls by artist Theresa Duncan. The Kickstarter was a success, and the games will be playable for free via browsers this Friday! I’ll be sure to share the link once they’re available. These are great and still highly important games that absolutely deserve their place in the gaming canon.

As part of the Kickstarter, I’m attending “The Theresa Duncan CD-ROMs,” the games’ premiere celebration at New York’s New Museum this Thursday. The evening will feature a panel discussion from Rhizome’s Dragan Espenschied, Lia Gangitano of Participant Inc., FEMICOM founder Rachel Simone Weil, and game critic Jenn Frank. I’m crazy stoked about this event, and I can’t wait to hear more about these games, the preservation process, and their place in feminist gaming history and broader culture. Expect a write-up afterwards…

If you’re in the NYC area and reading this blog, this is definitely an event you’d be interested in. Buy a ticket and come by! It’s a rare chance to learn about a very special slice from CD-ROM history.

Introducing the Resources page Blog category

The Journeyman Historical Log disc from The Journeyman Project

Playing obscure games can be difficult and exhausting. First you have to find a game, then buy or download a copy if it’s available, then figure out how to run it on a modern computer. That’s no small task. I’ve always taken for granted that I’m good with this, and part of it is certainly my background. I’m from a white middle-class family, and I’ve been immersed in the world of gaming for close to my entire life. I have always had the time, money, equipment, skills, and knowledge to dive into this stuff. Not everyone does.

People who can get into obscure games should be making it easier for everyone who can’t. We should all be pooling our resources to ensure that anyone can find, play, enjoy, and learn from obscurities.

In that spirit, I’ve put together a new Resources guide available at the top of the page. It contains tons of high-quality resources for finding and playing obscure games (with a strong focus on classic computer titles). I use these same materials for this blog and my research. I’ve divided the guide into three sections:

  • Discovering – learning about obscure games from lists, collections, reviews, and enthusiasts
  • Obtaining – getting ahold a copy, physical or digital
  • Playing – making the games run on your system

All three areas can be difficult for some people, and I hope that at least one person finds the resources I’ve put together useful. It was a lot of work, and I think it’s one of the most complete guides to obscure games out there.

I plan to continue updating this guide, so if there’s anything you think would be worthwhile to add, please drop me a line!

The Obscuritory at MAGFest! Blog category

MAGFest logo

I am impossibly excited to announce that I will be a panelist at the upcoming MAGFest 13 gaming festival!

MAGFest is the largest gaming event in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area, with attendance for 2015 expected to reach 15,000. I’ve attended MAGfest since 2012, and I’m unbelievably stoked to bring my obscure game-ery to the show this year.

Specifics like timing are still in progress, but I will be tentatively hosting a panel titled “Obscure Gaming Gems (and Why They Matter).” I’ll be talking about some great obscure games, but more importantly, I want to address why obscurities are important to the gaming discourse. I touched on it a little bit in an earlier essay: when we celebrate obscure games, we’re engaging gaming with an open mind and a curious spirit. It’s good for positivity and inclusiveness, and it makes the gaming landscape more exciting and critically engaging. There’s a lot to explore here, including the forgotten history of the Mac gaming scene, the works of Theresa Duncan, and – of course – Eastern Mind and its unlikely fan community.

I’ll be sure to post updates once we get closer to MAGFest 13 (January 23-26), but for now, I just wanted to share this exciting news. This is sort of a personal culmination of everything I’ve been working towards with this blog. I’m looking forward to spreading the good word about obscurities – and maybe even seeing a few friendly faces!

(If you plan on attending, please drop me a line so we can say hello!)

UPDATE: The official MAGFest schedule is out and has the panel slotted for 6pm on Saturday, January 24th, in the MAGES 2 room. It’s happening!

PSA: Help save young girls’ CD-ROM games! Blog category

I don’t post about Kickstarters too often on here, just because of the extreme volume of retro revivals and similar projects. But this one is pretty special. New York-based digital art group Rhizome is attempting to preserve three CD-ROM games by developer Theresa Duncan – Chop Suey, Smarty, and Zero Zero – that were designed for girls ages 7 to 12. These games were released for Windows 95 and 98, a dark age for compatibility and emulation, and Rhizome wants to curate them for modern audiences. This combines two of my favorite things: Windows 9x CD-ROMs and diversity in gaming.

This is a really terrific cause, and it’s a great example of why obscure games matter. I had never heard of any of these games prior to this Kickstarter, and it excites me so much to know that they made a difference for young girls back in the day. We should be celebrating more of these creative, out-of-the-way games tailored to audiences that are usually overlooked by the industry at-large. They’re special, and they make the world of gaming a little bit brighter. More people should know about them! (Plus, CD-ROMs are super great.)

If you want to learn more about Theresa Duncan and her work, check out Jenn Frank’s article In a Field of ’90s Barbieland Wreckage, Chop Suey Got Gaming for Girls Totally Right.

Please consider kicking in a few dollars!

(Thanks to Eli Abbott for alerting me about this!)

UPDATE: Rhizome has reached their goal! I’ll be sure to post an update once the project is complete some time next year.

Stop by on Tumblr! Blog category

Screenshot from Life & Death II: The Brain

In the interim between the sporadic articles I post on here, I’ve been posting screenshots, videos, and other tidbits to the Obscuritory Tumblr page. I use Tumblr as sort of a clearing house for all the content that hasn’t made it onto this site, which often means artistic screengrabs, quick blurbs for games I haven’t written articles about, and updates on weird stuff I’m adding to my collection (like my copy of Iron Helix!) I try to post new content every day, so there’ll always be more obscurities to check out. If you’re on Tumblr, swing by and say hello!

PSA: Get Pegasus Prime! Now! Blog category

Screenshot from The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime

I make no bones about the fact that The Journeyman Project is one of my all-time favorite games. It’s a classic of its time, but apparently not resting on their laurels, Presto Studios produced an FMV-tastic remake in 1997. Sadly, it was only released for PowerPC Macs and, bizarrely, the Apple Pippin, leaving it to languish on a shelf of unplayable could-have-beens for nearly two decades.

Seventeen years laterThe Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime has been released for Windows and OS X! This is a big moment for a series that’s seen a tremendous word-of-mouth comeback thanks to fans and availability via I will always have a special place in my heart for the original Journeyman Project, but this redux gives the game a facelift and story overhaul that puts it in sync with the rest of the series. (Above is Agent 3, Michelle Visard, a key character who originally didn’t appear until the second game!) And now that Pegasus Prime is available for anyone with a modern PC or Mac (in contrast to the original, admittedly hard to get running nowadays), there’s no excuse not to play all of them.

As of this writing, Pegasus Prime is only $8.00 on GoG. Please buy a copy! Then buy everyone you know a copy!

Eastern Mind 2 has been found Blog category

Holy fucking shit. As of yesterday, a copy of Eastern Mind 2 (Chu-Teng) has been found and ripped. If you look for it, it is out there. Moby Dick has been slain.

This is an enormous milestone. I am so proud to have helped instigated the search for this game. Although I was not involved in this particular effort, it is the crowning achievement of a 5-year effort to generate awareness for Eastern Mind. I re-discovered Eastern Mind in fall 2008, and I started The Obscuritory (both the blog and the YouTube channel) in part to show people this specific game. One thing led to another, Eastern Mind has a second life, and Osamu Sato’s legacy is alive and well.

I can’t contain my absolute giddiness about this discovery. My goal with The Obscuritory was to show people weirder, harder-to-find games that were forgotten by time. And damn if that has not been accomplished.

(Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)

1 4 5 6 7