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33 - MobyGames, the IMDB of Video Games
Episode 333rd October 2021 • The Life & Times of Video Games • Richard Moss
00:00:00 00:56:19

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There was no encyclopaedia nor fleshed-out database of video games in 1999. There were barely even any reliable or comprehensive lists of video games. Not until Jim Leonard decided he needed to build one.

He called it MobyGames, and 22 years later it's the de facto source for credits, screenshots, and other general information about video games. It is the "IMDB of video games". This is its story.

My thanks to the people who contributed to this story:

  • Jim Leonard blogs at Oldskooler Ramblings and tweets @MobyGamer.
  • John Szczepaniak's Untold History of Japanese Game Developers trilogy is on Amazon. There's also re-edited, prettified version called Japansoft available from Read-Only Memory.
  • Clint Basinger runs the excellent Lazy Game Reviews YouTube channel, where he explores and discusses retro games and technology.
  • Matej Jan blogs about pixel art and retro games at Retronator. He's also developing Pixel Art Academy, an adventure game for learning how to draw.
  • These days John Romero is COO at Romero Games, a triple-A game studio he co-founded with his wife (and company CEO) Brenda. Their most recent title is Empire of Sin.
  • Tomer Gabel is now a software architect and consultant. You can find out more about him and his work via his LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.

Thank you to my Patreon supporters for making this episode possible — especially my producer-level backers Carey Clanton, Wade Tregaskis, Seth Robinson, Rob Eberhardt, Simon Moss, Scott Grant, Vivek Mohan, and Joel Webber.

To support my work, so that I can uncover more untold stories from video game history, you can make a donation via or subscribe to my Patreon. (I also accept commissions and the like over email, if you're after something specific or just don't want to deal through those platforms.)

My first book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, is getting republished in October 2021 (this month!) by Bitmap Books in an "Expanded Edition", featuring a revised layout and design, more images, additional written content, and new sections including a timeline and icon gallery. Head to Bitmap's product page for more details. 

My second book, meanwhile, Shareware Heroes: The renegades who redefined gaming at the dawn of the internet, has just been copyedited and will soon be going through design and typesetting phases. It'll be out around Q2 2022, but you can preorder from Unbound.



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