by Leopold McGinnis
Underground Uprising Press, 2006
With the advent of the X-Box and Playstation, computer games like those developed by Sierra On-Line during the 1980s and 1990s seem almost quaint. So does the family-oriented company culture that Sierra boasted during its heydey. In homage to an industry giant and its progressive corporate values, the fiction novel Game Quest by Leopold McGinnis tells of the rise of Madre, a close group of employees run by Will and Kendra Roberts in the backwoods of Northern California, who design innovative games that are the envy of the industry. That is, until Will hires his first CFO to handle their growing business. And then a rival company, EGO games, designs the first 3-D shoot-'em-up, in direct opposition to Madre's text-based quest adventures. But wait, then there's the hostile takeover attempt by an inferior by resource-richer corporation. What's a company to do? Throughout it all, Madre keeps making games. And their fans keepnig loving them.
McGinnis follows closely the rise and fall of Ken and Roberta Williams' Sierra On-Line empire, even down to the the games and designers. In fact, it's surprising that Sierra On-Line didn't commission McGinnis to write a biography, so vast and deep is his knowledge of operations and events. It is a painful read at times, knowing what is coming, but it is always engaging. There is also a side plot that closely resembles the emergence of beheamoth Starbucks coffee, represented here by Ché's Coffee Revolution. There is also the coy theme throughout of text-based commands, like those Kendra begins to think as she slowly loses her grip on her daughter and her company: "Make coffee."
The only thing unwieldly about Game Quest is its size. At 500 pages, a good fifty or even one-hundred pages could have been lopped off, mainly interior drivel from the characters that does little to move the plot: "". However, even with its extra thickness, Game Quest is a book that's hard to put down. Be sure to lather on the sunscreen if you happen to take it to the beach
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