Wikipedia's daily feed is one of my favorite sources of news and this-day-in-history education. Today's featured article was a videogame: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantasmagoria_(video_game) I didn't play this game, but it reminded me of a similar game that came out a year earlier called The 11th Hour that a junior high friend shared with me. Phantasmagoria was made by one of my favorite game studios from my youth: Sierra Entertainment. This was one of the dominant PC gaming companies during the 80's and 90's, perhaps the largest, and was out of Washington (remember Seattle is the HQ for Microsoft, and the Pacific Northwest was as much a scene for computer engineers during that period as Silicon Valley). In fact, this studio is of particular interest to me, not just because so many of my fondest memories were playing their games as a youth, but because they technically were a California startup; first in Simi Valley, then later at the base of the Sierra mountain range near the Yosemite Valley in a town called Oakhurst (east of Merced); explaining, naturally, the source of their name. Of course, this was possibly the biggest game studio in existence in the mid-90's, bigger than EA, and yet they disappeared. In searching for the above trailer, because I couldn't remember any promotion for that game, I happened upon the following vid. As these guys mention there wasn't even a college degree targeting video games, specifically, in the late 80's, and many programmers who were trying to pay the bills started in accounting software (because Microsoft Excel wasn't a thing yet): If you want to skip to the recounting of the company's "scandal" and downfall, skip to the 44-minute hashmark, but hands down my favorite line from this vid comes while they explain a tradition where a new member to a monthly company house party had to take 7 straight shots called the Line of Death: "We were made of magic and rubber back then." Ironically, the downfall of Sierra and the downfall of Seagram's (the drink company) appear to have charted in parallel although that is only mentioned in passing in a single sentence. I read an interesting interview about that, separately, several few months ago-- a strange coincidence: Charles Bronfman opens up about Seagram's demise: 'It is a disaster' It's a fun conversation explaining the strange implosion of one of the biggest forces in VG history that ultimately lost its development identity in a series of corporate takeovers. The short of it is that ID Software ran them over with the advent of 3D gaming, while Sierra failed to adapt, and this converged with a public accounting scandal following the first takeover. For any retro PC gamer there are a lot of reminders of little ins and outs of gaming during that period that have probably since escaped your mind (ex. early Thrustmaster joysticks, paid tip lines, PC payment plans, multi-disc games, etc). This morning has been a nostalgia quest for me. Seeing the Red Baron cover is giving me endless flight/driving sim flashbacks. In fact, it's not a Sierra Game, but from Googling around this nostalgia, I just found out that Don Mattrick, the global heel who bungled the Xbox One launch, and did just as poorly heading Zynga, was one of a 2-man team who designed one of my all-time favorite games: the racing game series Test Drive. I likely never would have known how much joy this nerd I've scorned brought me if it wasn't for Wikipedia. Thank you, Wiki, and thank you, Don. The world ain't all bad.