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Major Video Games Developed In Oakhurst

OAKHURST – Did you know that Oakhurst was once home to one of the world’s largest video game developers?

If you remember Sierra Entertainment or perhaps worked there or know someone who did, there’s a writer who would like to talk to you.

Laine Nooney, a media studies researcher and cultural historian of technology, will be visiting Oakhurst from Sept. 18 – 22. Nooney is writing a book about Sierra Entertainment (Sierra On-Line), a home entertainment software company which was headquartered in the region during the 1980s and 90s.

She is seeking to formally interview anyone who was associated with the company, or its owners, Ken and Roberta Williams, as part of her research on the company’s history.

“This is a book about video game history, but also about what it means to run a technology business in rural America,” Nooney says. “Sierra was one of the largest employers in the town. I want to explore the relationship of the company to the region, the town, and to its previous employees.”
Mystery HouseSierra On-Line is best remembered for producing award-winning adventure games like King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry, and was, for some years, one of the largest independent producers of home entertainment software in the world. Its co-founder, Roberta Williams, was the first female computer game designer in the U.S.
Nooney is coordinating her efforts with the organizers of the upcoming Mountain Heritage Days, and will have a table at the Fresno Flats Historic Park after the Saturday Parade.
“Video game history is an important part of Oakhurst’s heritage. For almost fifteen years, Oakhurst was known as home to one of the nation’s leaders in interactive computer entertainment. People across the world still recognize the Sierra logo, which is an image of the Half Dome.”
Nooney’s relationship with the company’s history is personal for her.
“Like many kids of my generation who had computers, I grew up with these games. Writing this history gives me a way of exploring video games beyond my nostalgic recollections.”
Nooney hopes to speak with ex-employees, friends and spouses of ex-employees, local business owners who may have worked with the company, and anyone else with memories to share.
Sierra logo“Everyone has something to contribute,” Nooney says, “whether they had a positive or negative impression of the company.”
The oral interviews Nooney collects will be permanently housed at the Fresno Flat Historic Research Library and the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, NY, where they will be available to researchers for years to come.
“Like any oral history, the content of these conversations grows more valuable over time. There will be insights historians can draw from them 100 years from now that I can’t yet see. It is important that these memories are preserved.”
Residents interested in being interview with Laine Nooney Sept. 18-22 can contact her at laine.nooney@gmail.com or call 937-219-5209. Additionally, Nooney has made a Facebook group, Sierra On-Line memories, for people to join and contact her that way.
Laine NooneyLaine Nooney is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at NYU/Steinhardt. Laine is a media archaeologist of computers and video games, who brings historical, theoretical and feminist methods the study of everyday users and obsolete technology. Her current research project focuses on the history of Sierra On-Line and its female co-founder and lead designer, Roberta Williams. Corollary research interests include critical materialism, internet studies, affect theory, and social media. Laine is also an editorial group member for the Journal of Visual Culture. Laine has spoken internationally on video game history and culture, and has shared her research with NPR’s Marketplace, KillScreen, and NYU’s Game Center. See her website.

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