When Coin-Op was King, NBA Jam, the ‘90s, Pakistan, Sega, Shaq, and Book Publishing with Reyan Ali


Manage episode 246814411 series 2477672
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NBA Jam writer Reyan Ali talks about being born in the U.S., moving to Pakistan when he was young, and how the NES and Sega Mega Drive II video games influenced him. How the release of NBA Jam got him interested in the NBA, along with getting into Mortal Kombat and working on website in Pakistan. Learn how he wrote a FAQ for the team’s arcade classic The Grid without having actually having played the game by emailing the dev team member John Vogel.

Hear how he decided to write a book about NBA Jam after being a longtime freelance journalist writing and interviewing for Rolling Stone, Wired, Spin and other publications. Learn how his extensive pitch to Boss Fight Books helped him land the book deal before having talked to anyone who’d actually worked on the game. Hear about the interview process researching the book, including the CEO of Acclaim, Shaq, John Romero, Nolan Buschnell, musician George Clinton and many others. Learn how the book evolved from just NBA Jam into being a more detailed account of Midway Games, and the fall of arcade games from their peak.

Hear how the process created strong relationships with key developers, like Mark Turmell and others. Learn about the surreal process of tracking down and interviewing Shaq. Hear about how much money NBA Jam earned and later ended up being owned by Acclaim. Learn his dream about arcades and companies like Two Bit Circus working to bring them back.

Hear what Reyan’s doing now, favorite current games, and plans for the future. Hear him ask me about the challenges at Midway Games during the transition from arcade games to console-only, the resurgence of Mortal Kombat, and thoughts on the company filing for bankruptcy.


*Buy NBA Jam (the book) in print and digital at Boss Fight Books

*Order NBA Jam (the book) on Amazon Kindle

*Follow NBA Jam (the book) on Twitter

*DJ Jazzy Jeff and George Clinton Recall Becoming NBA Jam Hidden Characters Polygon

*Sega Mega II (and Genesis) Wikipedia

*The Grid Wikipedia

*NBA Jam Wikipedia

*Two Bit Circus website

*RenderWare Wikipedia

*Insert Coin YouTube trailer

*Raw Thrills website

*Level Ex website - we’re hiring for all kinds of roles

*Game Dev Advice Twitter

*Game Dev Advice email

*Game Dev Advice website

*Game Dev Advice Hotline: (224) 484-7733

*And thanks to Charles Dike Production podcast editing

*Don't forget to subscribe and go to www.gamedevadvice.com for full show notes with links

About My Guest

Reyan Ali is a writer from Columbus, Ohio. His work has been published by Wired, Spin, The Atlantic, The A.V. Club, and alt-weekly papers across the country. Born in Dallas, he grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, where he devoured '90s NBA action almost exclusively through trading cards, Beckett Basketball magazine, and NBA Jam: Tournament Edition on the Sega Mega Drive II.

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