The Sinclair range of retro computers certainly continue to inspire fans from the United Kingdom, clearly demonstrated by the recent Crash Live 2023 by Fusion Retro Events. Literally hundreds gathered to share their love of Sinclair Research Ltd and the rich heritage of computers that inspired many to go and become developers, story writers, artists and more in the gaming industry.
Hosted in Kenilworth, Warwick at the Holiday Inn hotel – Crash Live featured numerous hands on areas to enjoy the Sinclair ZX80, ZX81, ZX Spectrum +3 and of course probably the one that almost everyone remembers of the period, the ZX Spectrum. Original hardware and software filled every corner of the room, where modifications were also available for ‘quality of life’ enhancements.
Modern variations were also on display, hoping to inspire a whole new generation while also appealing to those who experienced the original era, yet are looking for something a little more feature rich. The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Next updates and enhances the original ZX Spectrum in a number of ways while still keeping compatibility with the original ZX Spectrum.
There were a number of talks throughout the day, although the queues for the presentation regarding the ZX Spectrum Next were lengthy so there is still a lot of attention for this new addition.
I managed to watch two of the presentations at the event, one with Steve Turner and Andrew Braybrook from Graftgold and another with Charles Cecil and Tony Warriner of Revolution Software / Artic Computing. What stood out from both presentations were the stories of struggle and this was most evident in the days of Artic Computing, where it’s somewhat of a miracle Revolution managed to form at all with so much strife suffered by the founders from the previous years of their career. How they kept their desire and determination to continue in the gaming industry is a testament to their characters and their very visible drive to create adventure games. Imagine a world without Beneath A Steel Sky, Broken Sword or Lure of the Temptress!
Tony Warriner I am very lucky to have as the co-host of the Pixel Refresh – Game & Gadget Podcast and even though I have known Tony for many years, this was the first time I have met him in person – so this was an extra special treat. I was introduced to Tony when approaching Revolution Software to see if I could get permission to release my enhanced version of the Beneath A Steel Sky Soundtrack to use within ScummVM and the friendship and collaboration grew from there.
Charles Cecil has also been fantastic, appearing in a podcast I hosted in 2013 and hopefully he will also join us in a future Game & Gadget Podcast too. With Broken Sword Reforged on the horizon, there is I am sure much to discuss and learn.
I also met with Roger Womack who specialises in football management games and Martin Mulrooney who helped Tony Warriner on his book covering the history and birth of Revolution Software titled REVOLUTION: The Quest for Game Development Greatness.
One of the wonderful spectacles was actually listening in on some of the conversations between the legends of the industry from different companies. You can tell straightaway the respect they have for one another and how they are keen to highlight key technical or creative highlights of the other, sharing their stories, struggles and successes. If the rest of us too shared this positive admiration, I am sure the world in general would be a better place for it.
The retro scene of course remains strong and events like Crash Live 2023 are a perfect example of this in action. Although the vast majority of the audience were enthusiasts who are there for the nostalgia trip, reliving their fond memories and keen to meet those involved with the creation of the titles they love and the fellow gamers who make up the community – there were also a number of younger members too.
If we wish to keep these wonderful machines alive in not just our hearts, but also in the minds of future generations, we all need to be doing everything we can to not just record these experiences for them, but also share the wonders and relevance of the hardware and software we so love so the understanding of how these computers and individuals set the path for computing as we know it today and for the years still to come.