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The Technology Issue

My Dad Was The Game Master

While most kids' parents limit their children's time playing video games, my Dad did the opposite. That is because my dad is Howard Phillips, Nintendo's former spokesperson and creative director, known better to first-generation Nintendo players as the...
AP
Κείμενο Alex Phillips
02 Απρίλιος 2009, 12:00am

MY DAD WAS THE GAME MASTER

Vice: Hey Dad, can you hear me?

Howard Phillips/Dad:

OK, OK. For the benefit of our readers, can you tell me what your job as the Game Master entailed?

Sounds important!

You were also the President of the fan club.

Am I in trouble if I say no?

Mush?

I remember seeing you in Nintendo Power magazine a lot.

The one you worked for.

That is a cool idea.

That’s marketing!

And the Howard and Nester comic?

Howard and Nester

Is there any truth to the rumor that Nester was also based on you?

Why did you wear the bowtie?

Did Nintendo try and brand you with it?

That’s weird, because I haven’t seen you wear one since you left Nintendo.

Can you tell me the story of that shiny purple sports jacket that I love so dearly?

How did you go from working in the Nintendo warehouse to becoming the Game Master?

You made yourself indispensible.

That sounds like quite a bit of responsibility.

Were us kids ever part of your game analysis? I always felt really important.

Every kid's opinion was important. Sorry for bursting your bubble. I just made sure that I got the most out of it when I saw a kid playing. It was fun watching you and Katherine with boys because you would breeze by with a high level of game knowledge. You liked being experts.

Were there gamer groupies?

Yeah, there were. Katherine thought it was really cool. I still get emails from people who remember me from when they were six years old. They write about how much they loved the games and the company. For me, that is really validating. I wanted to be an advocate of the kids.

I said “groupies,” not kid gamers.

The parents could be creepy though. There was some lady at an event who gushed to your mom about how good my manual dexterity must be.

Oh my God. That is nasty.

Yep. Some of the moms were crazy.

How did your job change over the years? It was such a different ballgame when you left the company.

I had been doing the creative director thing for four or five years and the industry was really starting to grow. It was like the dotcom boom but obviously well before that. It was the beginning of the tech age. My skill, which was that I knew every game, wasn't possible by the time I left. It was quite a bummer.

What do you think the future holds for gaming?

We still have the same traditional themes, such as the unlikely hero, but as the production of games becomes less expensive, people will use the medium in new and different ways that aren't as classically "game-like." This new core is really about problem solving.

Can you explain?

With games, we are given an opportunity to explore the world, and I think the technology of games will allow us to do more of that in the future. Things like feeding the poor in Africa.

So you’d like more fantasy.

Why don't we try doing what we would never do in the real world but would do in a game? This will allow us to expose how we are doing things in the real world.

You’re a good person, Dad.