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Chris Crawford on Game Design by Chris Crawford

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Lost in the Shuffle

During Atari's heyday in 1982, one of its brightest engineering talents was determined to move to New York City. Not wishing to lose the fellow's skills, Atari agreed to set him up with his own lab and employees right there in Manhattan. The arrangement worked well: The hotshot continued his prolific contributions to Atari and everybody was happy. But then, as Atari started to collapse, executive was replaced by executive who in turn was replaced by somebody else.

In one particularly brutal layoff, most of the engineering staff was let go—including everybody who knew of the existence of the Manhattan lab. The payroll computer didn't forget, of course, and so the paychecks kept going out punctually. In Manhattan, the elite ...

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