June 04, 10

TOM MEIGS has worked on over 45 game titles across every major platform since the late 8-bit era.

He published two books, with a third forthcoming.  In the early 2000’s he co-founded an independent game developer responsible for two of Disney mobile’s launch titles.

Along the pumpy curve we all tread, Tom earned not one, but two degrees in Philosophy;  mostly to insure that a never ending supply of unemployment jokes would find their way over his fence.  In an effort of true multi-tasking this was accomplished while he continuously fantasized about soundtracks for robot war.

His hobbies include collecting vintage Hanna Barbera toys, funk records, Gold Key comics, monster magazines, occasional go-karting, disposed electronic toys and synthesizers,  1970’s baseball bobbleheads, pop culture artifacts, really heavy pinball machines, boogie boarding,  and all forms of bad science fiction crafted with love.

His work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Live, Game Developer, Lake Oswego Review, OC Weekly, The District, Maximum Rock N Roll, Wired, The Beachcomber, Grunion Gazette and on KPBS, Armada Radio, Sound Space, Space Station Music, and NPR.

In his own words:

I developed an early and lasting obsession with weaponized talking apes who took joy in mercilessly trampling humans to death with horses at sunset.  All of my previous experience in the world had led me to believe that monkeys were mostly friendly.   Also of big interest to me were humans composed partially of seemingly expensive machine parts (about six million dollars worth).

In November of 1976, I played Pong for the first time at the Miami Airport Inn hotel. About three years later, I played Flying Saucers on the Radio Shack TRS-80 computer for the first time, understanding finally that THIS is what computers were probably meant to be (gaming machines instead of anything else).

This led to a small flurry of writing very simple computer games with friends saved to cassette tapes in BASIC until we grew tired of pecking on the keyboard and transferring pixel on/off numbers from graph paper.  None of us could type.

I soon developed new fascinations with Bun E. Carlos, marine life, boogie boarding, and had dreams of any job that involved a pressurized diving helmet as part of its uniform.  These soon eclipsed any hope for a big future in programming. After doing my absolute best to earn a position on the “no-admittance” list to both my Jr. and Sr. high school proms, and watching my grades fall lower than the stock market on black monday, I enrolled in a record engineering program on the advice of a studio engineer I met at a party who promised me an advanced listen of Prince’s top secret “Black” album. I never got the promised listening.

The ability to process sounds with a computer instead of tape became the next important revelation. The following seven years were consumed with the study of philosophy: Logic, Greek, Continental, Analytic, and Eastern. On finishing my B.A., I spent the literal start of the first Gulf War in Negril, Jamaica floating with red squirrel fish and listening to local obituaries on the radio.

I returned to school and wrote On the Logical Possibility of Computer Consciousness: Considerations on the Prospect of Achieving Conscious Machines for a thesis. It now finds its eternal purpose as a non-addictive sleep aid.  I had considered weaving in emergent music systems, electronic music, and their connection to intelligent expression, but this only seemed to frustrate my professors further – and they were kinda at the limit with me already.

The M.A. was awarded with honors and the thesis won a medal (huzzah!) despite the condescending attitude of the brand new computer science department, who ended up partnering with the philosophy department 10 years later to study the very same area after giving me nothing but grief about it from the beginning.  Another early lesson about not listening too carefully to some folks.

A parent soon suggests the probability of an eventual career in real estate sales based on seeing a family friend’s photographic image staring back from a giveaway realtor notepad. This suggestion followed repeated employment rejection on my part as a movie ticket taker, file processor, and mattress mover.

Deciding to stick with gaming yet again, I sent out 600+ resumes to game related companies of every description with the help of a good friend working in the mailroom of a vapor recovery company. All this paper waste leads to just two phone calls: The first call sent me driving 450 miles only to find out on arrival that during the day’s drive the company has closed up their offices and apparently forgotten to tell me. (Oops – “oh yah, that guy! hmmm”)

As a result of the second call, I am eventually hired as a form of not so subtle cosmic mercy, directly by the former President of Atari Games who will change my life well into the future.   Plenty of game work unfolds.