For our oral history project, we interviewed Jeff Lee, and Terry Minnich who is also known as Trickman Terry. Jeff Lee was an artist that made artwork for QBert, Exterminator, and as well as other freelancing work. Terry Minnich was an editor for a magazine called Electronic Gaming Monthly Magazine where he was an editor for the Tips and Tricks section where he would review tricks submitted from fans and publish them in EGM. Terry had a fairly large collection of arcade games in his basement which is where the interview took place. Both of these men were passionate about their job and were very knowledgeable in the video game industry.
Terry Minnich worked many years as an editor for EGM, specifically the Tricks and Tips section. He would receive letters from fans, receive information overseas from Japan, or play the games himself with his team to try to obtain tricks, cheats, glitches or bugs, and other information needed to make the games more enjoyable. Terry was also an avid collector who obtained and maintained a collection of arcade machines in his basement and was well informed in the hardware aspect of the history.
Jeff Lee, the second person interviewed, was an artist who was a fan of video games, specifically at the bar scene where he would enjoy a few drinks along with playing Pinball or Armour Attack before he got into the game industry in a more serious manner. He coincidently began working at Gottlieb and Co.as an artist where he made the artwork for Qbert1, 2, and 3. Then him and a fellow partner from Qbertwere contracted to do some artistry work on a few games like Exterminator. After he finished his artwork for QBert, he did some freelancing, and did some art and design work for the games Double GsandLotto Fun as well as another piece for the companyCredible Technologies.
Terry Minnich, as part of his job as an editor, knew a lot about the Konami Code, which is a special combination of buttons the player can hit which will enable special abilities or extra lives. He mentioned the Konami Code as one of the first major cheat codes as it was used in many games such as Gradius, Contra, Dance Dance Revolution,and other games. The Konami code was interesting to look at because it is something about the history that you can not find by looking at the game itself; you have to talk to the players and fans of the games to learn about.
Jeff Lee was a major designer of Q*bert,a puzzle game where players had to make each color of a block on a pyramid the same color. This game was hugely popular and is considered to be a classic from its time period. Lee had significant contributions on the project including character design, using the pyramid shape as a game, and the “@!#?@!” that the playable character would say in speech bubble.
Minnich and Lee both had major impacts in the first generation of video games however from different positions. Lee was a creator and was part of the first hand industry while Minnich was part of the second hand industry that helped publicize the games and create the community of gamers that is around today. It is interesting to look at the multiple levels of the video game industry as there are many aspects to it like designing, manufacturing, retailing, the media scene, and the competition aspect.
Interview with Terry "Trickman" Minnich and Jeff Lee completed by Jordan Mynes and Fulgencio Torres on October 13, 2015. Photographs by Jordan Mynes. Transcription by Silvia Nunez, Zhanna Badasyan, and Jared Wohn. The full archive of the interview, including the complete audio file, full transcription, and additional photographs, is available through the IIT Institutional Repository.