The Life & Times of Video Games

An award-nominated documentary and narrative audio series about video games and the video game industry — as they were in the past, and how they came to be the way they are today. History doesn't just vanish into the distance behind us; it casts a very long shadow that affects everything that comes after it, and so with The Life and Times of Video Games journalist and historian Richard Moss draws those through lines to tell fascinating stories about the past that link right back to the present.


Utopia, and the teacher who made a game of its impossibility

When Don Daglow pitched management at Mattel on an Intellivision game about trying to build a perfect society, he thought he was just creating a "line filler" in their product calendar. Instead he made one of the most important games of all time.

  • Don wrote a book in 2018 about the business and design insights he's gained from his long career making video games (nearly 50 years if you include his mainframe games!). If you buy it on Amazon via my affiliate link, I get a small percentage of the sale price.
  • It's also worth noting, for anyone up for some further reading, that I've done in-depth genre histories for Ars Technica on two of the genres that Utopia influenced — city-building games and real-time strategy.
  • I'll also have more content from my two (so far!) interviews with Don in the coming weeks and months — probably a "soundbite" in mid-November and a full episode in 2021, plus maybe more of each of those.
  • Utopia is one of several Intellivision games slated for re-release on the upcoming Intellivision Amico console. In the meantime, you can grab a fan-made remake on (Mac or Windows), track down a copy of the Intellivision Lives! collection from some years back, boot it up in an emulator, or just watch some videos of it on YouTube.
  • All music in this episode was my own, except selected clips from Santa Paravia, Astrosmash, Fascinating Fruit, and Utopia, and the IBM mainframe playing a song.
  • Thanks to my sponsor for this episode, Richard Bannister. You can find out more about his Retro Games for Mac collection at his website or by listening to my Indie Spotlight interview with him.

To support my work, so that I can uncover more untold stories from video game history, you can make a donation via or subscribe to my Patreon. (I also accept commissions and the like over email, if you're after something specific.)   

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 2020-11-02  39m