Creating Q*bert and Other Classic Video Arcade Games

Creating Q*bert and Other Classic Video Arcade Games
Warren Davis Foreword by Ed Boon Afterword by John Newcomer
January 2022
Over 50 Black-And-White and Color Photos
6 x 9

“Warren was part of a small team building Williams’ next generation of video arcade hardware and software. By the time I joined the video game department, they had built a development foundation upon which future classic arcade games like NARCSmash TVTerminator 2NBA Jam, and Mortal Kombat would be created. . . . I can’t overstate the impact Warren had on the development of Mortal Kombat and so many other Williams/Midway games.”—Ed Boon, Co-creator of Mortal Kombat and NetherRealm Studios creative director

Q*bert may be Warren’s most famous creation, but his work at 1990’s Midway was instrumental in the parade of arcade smash hits that marched out of our studio. He is both humble and accurate in his behind-the-scenes recollections. If ever you wanted a peek behind our coin-op curtain and a window into the life of a true industry pioneer, this is it!”—John Tobias, Co-creator of Mortal Kombat

Creating Q*bert and Other Classic Video Games takes you inside the video arcade game industry during the pivotal decades of the 1980s and 1990s. Warren Davis, the creator of the groundbreaking Q*bert, worked as a member of the creative teams who developed some of the most popular video games of all time, including Joust 2, Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, and Revolution X.

In a witty and entertaining narrative, Davis shares insightful stories that offer a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to work as a designer and programmer at the most influential and dominant video arcade game manufacturers of the era, including Gottlieb, Williams/Bally/Midway, and Premiere.

Likewise, the talented artists, designers, creators, and programmers Davis has collaborated with over the years reads like a who’s who of video gaming history: Eugene Jarvis, Tim Skelly, Ed Boon, Jeff Lee, Dave Thiel, John Newcomer, George Petro, Jack Haeger, and Dennis Nordman, among many others.

The impact Davis has had on the video arcade game industry is deep and varied. At Williams, Davis created and maintained the revolutionary digitizing system that allowed actors and other photo-realistic imagery to be utilized in such games as Mortal Kombat, T2, and NBA Jam. When Davis worked on the fabled Us vs. Them, it was the first time a video game integrated a live action story with arcade-style graphics.

On the one-of-a-kind Exterminator, Davis developed a brand new video game hardware system, and created a unique joystick that sensed both omni-directional movement and rotation, a first at that time. For Revolution X, he created a display system that simulated a pseudo-3D environment on 2D hardware, as well as a tool for artists that facilitated the building of virtual worlds and the seamless integration of the artist’s work into game code.

Whether you’re looking for insights into the Golden Age of Arcades, would like to learn how Davis first discovered his design and programming skills as a teenager working with a 1960s computer called a Monrobot XI, or want to get the inside scoop on what it was like to film the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Aerosmith for Revolution X, Davis’s memoir provides a backstage tour of the arcade and video game industry during its most definitive and influential period.

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Warren Davis

His career in the videogame industry spans three decades. He began in 1982 working for Gottlieb where his first game was the hugely successful arcade classic, Q*bert. He followed that with a laserdisc game, Us Vs. Them. In the mid-80s, while working at Williams, he co-programmed Joust 2 and helped develop the system that became NARC. Davis was also part of the team that created Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Revolution X featuring Aerosmith. He also developed the digitizing system that Williams/Bally/Midway would use for many of their hit games of the 1990s including Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, and the aforementioned Terminator 2 and Revolution X. In 2018, Davis was inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame.

Ed Boon

Ed Boon is the co-creator Mortal Kombat and the creative director of NetherRealm Studios.