Matthew Smith
Guy Lochhead, 25/08/10
English computer game programmer best known as the writer of ZX Spectrum games ‘Manic Miner’ and ‘Jet Set Willy’, which both follow a character called Willy as he navigates early examples of platform game levels. After writing Manic Miner so quickly (in eight weeks, only at night, because the console would crash when his mum put the kettle on) in 1983, Smith felt pressured to write a sequel just as rapidly. This pressure led to a few unfinished or unsuccessful games, before he dropped out of programming and moved to a commune in the Netherlands. He was deported in 1997 and was surprised and flattered by the mythical reputation the games, and he, had acquired. He is now back in the gaming industry again. Although this is an example of a historically significant, early home game programming, I don’t want to include him because of his career’s ups and downs, and the fact that so much pressure was put on him, and because he ended up making games professionally… I will, however, include ‘Manic Miner’, as a testament to the commitment and innovations one bedroom programmer can have, before it all went pear-shaped.

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