Letter to Vid Kidz, 1982


Here is a letter I sent to video game designers Larry Demar and Eugene Jarvis (aka Vid Kidz) back in 1982. It was written in WordStar on a homemade Heath H-89 computer running CP/M, and printed on an Epson MX-80 dot-matrix printer.

Thanks to Larry for being so well organized and having a scanned copy of this in his archives. It was a fun blast from the past to see it, a reminder of a time in my life when video games weren’t just a thing, they were the only thing.

A little over a month after I sent this letter, I was living in Chicago, working at JoyStik Magazine. A lot happened in that month!



  1. Cool to have stuff like this kicking around…Was there a reason the Chicago was the “hotbed” for all things written about video games?

  2. As with so many things Chicago, the answer is … gangsters. Sort of. Pinball was huge in Chicago, and many of the big pinball manufacturers of the mid 20th century were there: Bally, Williams, Stern, Gottlieb and others. And pinball was big, in bars and arcades all over the Chicago area. There were areas where you had to get your games from a particular company, and if you put games from somebody else in your bar, bad things could happen. (I remember an older Chicago bartender telling me stories about this in the early 80s.)

    Then when coin-op games got big in 1980-82, all of the same manufacturers mentioned above started cranking out video games. Silver Sue’s is mentioned in that letter, and that’s an arcade in north Chicago where many great players plied their trade. And Mother’s was a place out in the suburbs (Mount Prospect) where most of those manufacturers tested their games, putting new models in to see how they did with a fanatical coin-op crowd before releasing them nationwide.

    Seattle had no such connection to the game industry itself, but we had some crazy guys who turned their lives upside-down to play games around the clock, and we also had quite a few contests, which raised the competition level.

    In hindsight, at the time I wrote that letter I was clearly feeling like Seattle didn’t get the respect it deserved, but truthfully we weren’t as tied in to the industry as Chicago and Silicon Valley (home of Atari and others). I played at a high level in all of those places and many others back in the glory days, and I must admit now that Chicago was wonderful because there were so MANY great players there. I remember a couple of teenage girls watching me play Defender at Silver Sue’s one night, just standing there watching, and later that evening I saw them playing a machine on much harder settings that I was accustomed to, and there’s no way I could have kept up with them.

    Don’t get me started, I have more video game stores than I have the time to tell any more. 🙂

  3. Hopefully some day you will have the time to tell some of these stories. It’s a side of gaming I had absolutely no idea about and you have got me deeply intrigued. Growing up in Edmonton in the late 70’s and early 80’s there was no gaming culture that I am aware of and most of of my misspent youth involved smokey Billiards halls, which if memory serves me correctly frowned upon video games including pinball

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