This week’s Longreads Member Exclusive is “Forever Young,” a story by Jason Johnson for the literary video game magazine Kill Screen. Johnson tells us how he first discovered a group of Hungarian developers who have spent more than 20 years developing a game for the Commodore 64:
“This wasn’t supposed to happen. As originally conceived, my account of Newcomer, a Commodore 64 game from Hungary, had no business in a publication that hangs its hat on lengthy works of journalism. My assignment was a paltry 1,500 words. The initial interview wasn’t fruitful. However, as is the case with many who’ve stumbled upon this fascinating lifework––now twenty-three years in the works, and counting––one thing led to another, and I was in it for the long haul.
“I was interested in profiling István Belánszky, Newcomer‘s torchbearer, but like so many merely adequate polyglots, István doesn’t speak English very well. He was hesitant to interview verbally. I wasn’t able to get to Budapest to meet him, so I interviewed extensively, both with and around István, relying on the convenience of email and instant messaging. The result was a scroll of text, some 27,918 words, the majority typed by István, with long intervals between our exchanges as he painstakingly hammered out, to the best of his ability, the ins and outs of writing software for a computer that, quite honestly, was outdated in 1992, when development on the game began. The longest of these sessions lasted for an insufferable seven hours. By the end, I was ready to cry. But every now and then, amidst the barrage of technical talk and ‘b0rked English,’ a morsel of information would appear in the text window so peculiar and surprising that it made everything worthwhile.”
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