During the last week I finished reading Jordan Mechner’s The Making of Karateka it’s his journal from roughly late 1982 – 1985. It focuses on his time at Yale in which he created the eponymous Karateka video game which is the precursor to his famous Prince of Persia video game. I had previously read The Making of Prince of Persia, his journals from 1985 – 1993. Most important to keep in mind is that this is excerpts form his diary, there is no accompanying narrative. Which I feel is a weakness, but a bit more on this later. For what it is, it’s a very fascinating insight into a young artist life, you get a real feel for his angst and desire in finishing the project while trying to balance a full time college career and of course a young man’s social life.
I am grateful to him for releasing such a personal viewpoint to these times in his life. You’ll find a lot of 80’s nostalgia as he writes about seeing films such as Raiders of the Lost Arc for the first time and through the [now classic] video games he plays. Where the work lacks is that there is no additional narrative – he mentions people and events to which have little context or meaning to the reader. Although this doesn’t ruin the story it would have improved the experience. For example there many instances where he says he “DRAX[ed]” something – using Google I was able to find an interview where he explains that there is program he made called DRAW and to increment the version he changed the last letter (i.e. W to X). Although that was by chance, there are other events where you’re at the mercy of the limited description. I should add that The Making of Prince of Persia also doesn’t have a narrative but does a better job of standing on it’s own.
All things considered, it’s a wonderful insight in the mans mind and ethos and a must read to any one interested in video game production or just looking for a bit nostalgia.
Available at Jordanmechner.com and Amazon.com