A Letter to Owen, Part 3
A woman contacted me on Facebook to tell me that she of a gift she was preparing for her grandson’s Bar Mitzvah. The boy is a very avid gamer, and she wanted to present him with a book of letters written by people who worked in the game industry. She asked me to make a contribution, and here is more of what I wrote.
After I programmed a couple of more games for Edu-Ware, my boss Sherwin told me that it would be far more efficient if I just designed the games and had other people program them. After first I did not like the idea. I saw myself as a lone wolf and didn’t want the responsibility of managing someone else. Eventually I relented, and soon several programmers were working under my direction. Much to my surprise, I found that I enjoyed giving creative direction to others, and I was so busy with game design that I gave up programming entirely.
Edu-Ware’s line of educational and entertainment software was very successful, and it caught the eye of an accounting software company, Peachtree Software, that wanted to break into the home computing market. They purchased Edu-Ware (and since I had been awarded stock in the company, I earned a nice chunk of money in the process) and ran the company from their headquarters in Atlanta.
Unfortunately, Peachtree Software didn’t understand the home market or our company culture. They forced us to wear ties at work and packaged all of our games and educational software in the same boxes they used to sell their accounting software. We became demoralized and sales plummeted. After a year of misery, Peachtree realized it had made a mistake and shut down Edu-Ware.
We were down but not out. A group of us decided to form our own game publishing company. With Peachtree no longer interested in the home market, it didn’t take much to get them to give us the rights to two simulation games that Edu-Ware had under development: an outdoor survival simulation called Wilderness, and a lunar landing simulator called Lunar Explorer. Since both games involved simulated travel, we named our company Electric Transit. Now the only problem we had was getting our games into the stores.
Well, there was a little software publisher that was founded in the San Francisco area a couple of years prior and they had really excellent distribution. You might have heard of them – Electronic Arts. So, we struck a deal with them to become their first affiliated label publisher. But, with us being their first, they made all of their mistakes on us. They greatly overestimated the demand for our games, and we wound up making more copies that we were able to sell. That was a financial hole we couldn’t dig ourselves out of, and so after two years, we were out of business, and all of the money I had earned from the sale of Edu-Ware was gone.