17 articles Articles posted in Writing

Granny’s Garden creator interview

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This is my interview with the creator of the BBC Micro’s primary school cult classic Granny’s Garden. It was published on my retrogaming site in 2005.

It’s 1982, and the BBC has just made Acorn’s new computer the official BBC Microcomputer – which gave the chunky cream box an easy ride straight into schools up and down the UK.

Some classroom BBC Model Bs were ignored by suspicious luddite teachers; others had passionate lunchtime ‘Computer Clubs’ form around them. But, for some inexplicable reason, seemingly all of them — every single BBC Model B in the whole of Britain — had Granny’s Garden.

Mike Matson was a Devonshire teacher — specialism: geography — when he created the witch, the woodcutter’s cottage, the talking mushroom and the perplexing four-dragons puzzle, all of which will forever bounce around the brains of any UK citizen now approaching their 30th birthday. We¬†tracked him down for a cup of tea and a chinwag about Granny’s Garden.

Mike Matson… then and now

How did you get into computing?
In the early ’80s I spent the weekend with a friend of mine who worked at Hewlett Packard, and he’d got this huge computer with a tiny little green screen, text-only. He asked me to come and have a look. So I sat down — and I was there glued to it the whole weekend. It was the original Adventure — gold nuggets, diamonds, dwarves — and it absolutely hooked me. This tiny little screen, no bigger than six inches, just got me. It was wonderful.

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Skool Daze feature (Retrogamer)

This is an interview with the creators of the much-loved ZX Spectrum game Skool Daze, which I wrote for Retrogamer magazine (in its Live Publishing days) back in 2006. This was the second time I’d spoken to programmer Dave Reidy after tracking him down for a previous article in Arcade magazine. For this feature, I managed to find Keith Warrington, the game’s artist. As far as I know, this is still the only time the two have spoken about the game since Microsphere’s heyday in the mid ’80s.

Dave Reidy can’t recall much about what he learned at school. “What I remember best are the things between lessons. Kicking balls around corridors, playing conkers, firing a catapult. Making fun of teachers. Making fun of other kids. And that was basically how I wanted Skool Daze to be. There’d be a major task to perform — but if you wanted to spend all your time beating people up, you could. Just like school.”

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