Our guest on this episode of the Popzara Podcast is a veteran of the gaming industry who knows a few things about remembering (and collecting) classic games, Digital Eclipse’s editorial director Chris Kohler, whose career as a journalist, historian, presenter, and, naturally, an actual game player, make him uniquely qualified to talk about The Making of Karateka, the first title in his company’s planned Gold Master Series of “interactive documentaries”.
Last year’s Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration signaled a momentous change in what a collection of older games could be: using the medium to let players experience and interact with both the games and their history. The Making of Karateka narrows this focus to a single title, telling the story how a teenaged Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia), inspired by his love of Bruce Lee and martial arts films, would innovate game design by applying cinematic elements and a greater emphasis on story with 1984’s Karateka on the Apple II computer. There was more to the story, of course.
Our own amateur archivist Nathan Evans and Chris deep dive into the creation of Digital Eclipse’s groundbreaking series, the “gamification” of gaming history, how the relationship between Jordan and his father Francis Mechner may be the real story behind Karateka’s success, and how Nintendo’s year of unparalleled successes in 2023 may be the catalyst for others to start taking the preservation of gaming history more seriously.