Origin Story: Paperboy

July 26, 2010
  1. Atari headquarters, 1983. A group of bored game designers sit around a table.

  2. Carl

    All right, guys, I know it's been a slow day, but let's finish on a high note, okay? We just need to come up with something that kids will find fun. We were all kids once. What did you guys think was fun when you were kids? How about you, Jonathan?

  3. Jonathan

    Hmm… I had a paper route for a while. That was pretty good.

  4. Carl

    Okay, good. What sort of stuff did you do?

  5. Jonathan

    Let's see… I delivered papers. That was important.

  6. Dave

    Sure. What else?

  7. Jonathan

    Well, I delivered the papers while riding a bike.

  8. Russell

    Okay! Bike riding! Now we're getting somewhere!

  9. Jonathan

    I don't know. The whole biking around thing wasn't really that fun. I remember having to spend a lot mental energy just avoiding obstacles. Lots of fire hydrants and lawnmowers and bees. Also a lot of breakdancers for some reason.

  10. Dave

    Hmm. Maybe we should focus on the act of delivering the papers. You had to throw the papers at the houses, right?

  11. Jonathan

    Oh, yeah.

  12. Dave

    And throwing stuff's pretty fun, right?

  13. Jonathan

    It was okay, but my boss had this kind of weird thing going where he'd pay you more money if you vandalized the houses of people who didn't have subscriptions to our paper.

  14. Carl

    That doesn't sound right.

  15. Jonathan

    I know. Even at the time it felt wrong, but I was just a kid, so I figured, hey, what do I know? But yeah, the guilt of breaking all those windows, day after day, week after week, it really kept me up at night.

  16. Russell

    Jesus. And you thought your paper route was fun?

  17. Jonathan

    Well, I guess it wasn't fun, exactly. I didn't hate it. Most days, anyway.

  18. Dave

    Maybe we're looking at this thing from the wrong angle. Kids get paper routes to get paid, right? So maybe when the kid finishes the level, he, uh, writes us a letter saying he finished the paper route, and then we cut him a cheque. Maybe, like, fifty bucks per level?

  19. Carl

    I don't know. We shouldn't have to literally pay kids to play our game. Maybe this whole thing is just a dead end.

  20. Russell

    Well, hold on. What if we just took the boring paper delivery and the annoying obstacle avoidance and the mild vandalism, and made that a game? Sure, it probably won't be any good, but kids are pretty dumb right?

  21. Dave

    Oh yeah. I've got a couple at home. Complete morons.

  22. Carl

    Well, okay. But what are we going to name the thing?

  23. Dave

    We could, uh, we could call it… um…

  24. The meeting drags on for another six hours. A few weeks later, The Bicycling Boy Child and His Astonishing Adventures in Obstacle Avoidance and Paper-Based Publication Tossing Featuring the Bicycling Boy Child's Trusty Bicycle in the Role of the Bicycling Boy Child's Trusty Bicycle goes into development.

Filed Under   conversations   nes   paperboy
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