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Michelle's corner

Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)

Reading progress update: I've read 5 out of 346 pages.

Deus Ex Machina - The Best Game You Never Played in Your Life - Mel Croucher

I first came across Mel Croucher when i was a spotty teenager, hunched over a mechanical keyboard. To be more precise, I came across The Pi Man in Crouchers computer came PiMania. It was a curious game with no traditional ending. Instead, it was a series of clues which would lead to the discovery of the "Golden Sundial of Pi."

In actual fact, it did really exist and two women solved the puzzle and won the prize. The sundial was made of gold and worth six thousand great british notes, back in the eighties. That's a ton of money back then. It would pay for a family car and then leave you enough for a few hundred bottles of wine.


I stumbled across Croucher again because I'm a retro gamer. Now older and slightly less wiser, I read up on his history and how it collided with the popularisation and commercialisation of the home computer industry.


The more I read about Mel, the more I got this image of a fun guy who didn't take himself too seriously and actually had a genuine love for life and creation. The game Deus Ex Machina isn't so much a game but more an artistic endeavour merged with a bit of a challenge and... well, it's unique. You can actually see it being played along with its star studded soundtrack on YouTube if you're lucky enough to find it. We're talking Ian Drury, John Pertwee and Frankie Howard among the names.


This game was set to go head to head with the gaming industry and Mel certainly has a lot to say about it. I'm hoping to gather another insight from the period that I grew up in, but didn't know how ignorant I was of... by reading this book.


The physical thing is on its way to me. In the mean time, I'm reading the section on Amazon, and this is typical of Croucher's humour...


The Worker Who Married Me had been teaching English to groups of men with multi-coloured beards and surrealist headwear, and when we arrived back in the UK we had the notion to enhance my new multimedia business and her teaching career by becoming failed antiques dealers. I would go and buy things I liked, such as wax-cylinder phonograph machines and vintage typewriters, and spend lots of time repairing them for sale.Then she would calculate the hours and effort involved and tell me how much loss I had made. It was an interesting business model that I would use again in my video game career. By the time she brought home and educational brochure about an electronic brain in a tin box from her place of work, I was ready to roll. This little computer was the size of a suitcase and it didn't use punch-cards for storing stuff, it fed on magnetic tape! What's more, the tape was housed in standard cassettes just like the ones I had used for my Dubai travel guides.


This is promising to be a good read.