Okay, full disclosure:  I’m not exactly a gamer.  In my house, you’ll find the likes of Skyrim, Call of Duty, and The Sims along with more than one brand of video console, but none of these are mine.  When I was eleven, you see, my mother sat me down in the doctor’s office as my right hand cramped into a seemingly permanent knot, convinced I was experiencing some kind of debilitating vitamin deficiency.  Nope.  It was Atari joystick carpal tunnel.  That was a thing.  And now you understand.  I’ve been on the wagon since 1987, but I’m willing to bail for Meriwether:  An American Epic, a role-playing game-in-development created by Sortasoft LLC designer Joshua DeBonis and writer (and, full disclosure, my friend) Carlos Hernandez.  The two met roughly five years ago via the Board Game Designers Forum in New York City where Hernandez learned of DeBonis’ fascination with the Lewis and Clark expedition and DeBonis learned of Hernandez’s gift for narrative.  Thus the Meriwether wheels were set in motion.  As Meriwether gathers funds from its Kickstarter campaign as well as interest from the likes of The Atlantic Monthly, I asked DeBonis and Hernandez to sit down for a conversation that covered everything from game design to the craft of writing to Borges to Roger Ebert to my eminent retreat from the real world sometime around November of 2013 when Meriwether officially drops.

A co-worker recently introduced me to an Internet meme that combines the wonkish humor endemic to programmers and their ilk with the high-culture aspirations of literary types such as myself. It’s a supposed lost Nintendo game circa 1990 based on Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby. According to the website “it’s an unreleased localization of a Japanese cart called ‘Doki Doki Toshokan: Gatsby no Monogatari.” Of course, those claims are completely bogus. Nintendo never released a Gatsby game here or abroad. But it’s easy to imagine Doki Dok Toshokan as a forgotten treasure recovered from Nintendo’s vault. The graphics are of the two-tone, blocky 8-bit variety, and stylistically everything about it feels like an old-school Nintendo game. The music is so synthetically melodic and completely lacking in tonal subtly that you can almost hear the binary code ticking away behind the scenes. It’s magical in the way that only NES games can be, and once you get accustomed to the awkward interface used to emulate the original Nintendo controller on a keyboard (space bar to jump, the letter Z to shoot), it’s an easy game to master and beat (I completed all four levels in about half an hour during lunch).