Howard Scott Warshaw
|Howard Scott Warshaw|
Classic Game Postmortem: Yars' Revenge Howard Scott Warshaw
July 30, 1957 |
|Pen name||HSW, The Silicon Valley Therapist|
|Occupation||Psychotherapist, author, technologist, moviemaker, actor, video game designer|
|Education||Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology|
|Alma mater||John F. Kennedy University|
|Notable works||E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Yars' Revenge|
Howard Scott Warshaw (born July 30, 1957), also known as HSW, is an American psychotherapist and former game designer who is best known for his work at Atari in the early 1980s. There, he designed and programmed the games Yars' Revenge, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, all for the Atari 2600 video game console. He has also written two books as well as produced and directed three documentaries.
Before entering game design, Warshaw was "Colorado born, Jersey raised, and New Orleans schooled." He attended Tulane University, where he received a bachelor's degree, with a double major in Math and Economics. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and received a scholarship for his graduate work in Computer Science. One year later he received his master's degree in Computer Engineering.
Warshaw's first success, Yars' Revenge, first started as an Atari 2600 adaptation of the arcade game Star Castle. However, as limitations became clear, Warshaw re-adapted the concept into a new game involving mutated houseflies defending their world against an alien attacker. The game's working title was Time Freeze. Playtesting by Atari found that the game was popular with women. The game was a major success and is still regarded as one of the best games made for the Atari 2600. This led Warshaw to be picked as the designer of the game adaptation of the film Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was also a commercial success and was critically acclaimed at the time.
It was his success on Raiders that led to Warshaw being chosen to design and program the ill-fated Atari 2600 adaptation of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Problems began early as he was only given five weeks to go from concept to finished product. Warshaw was assisted by Jerome Domurat, a graphics designer at Atari. Although the game was finished on time, it was poorly received and seen as being confusing and frustrating. Atari took a major financial loss on the project which, combined with other poor business decisions and conditions, led to the company being divided and sold within two years. During this time, Warshaw developed and almost finished another game called Saboteur. He left the company before it was completed. It was then re-adapted into a game based on the television series The A-Team but this also remained unfinished. Atari was dismantled before either version could be released.
In the 2014 movie, Atari: Game Over, he is quoted as saying that all his games sold over 1 million copies.
Following the collapse of Atari, Warshaw wrote two books. The first, The Complete Book of PAN, is a guide to the card game of the same name. In the second, Conquering College, Warshaw discusses his techniques toward academic success, referred to as RASABIC (Read Ahead, Stay Ahead, Be In Class) which enabled him to graduate early and save one full year's tuition.
Later, he studied video production, and released the documentary From There to Here: Scenes of Passage., a chronicle of the American immigration of two Russian women from the same family, one in 1920 and the other in 1980. Subsequently he went on to produce the multi-part documentary Once Upon Atari, a collection of interviews and stories of employees and designers at Atari during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 2005, he also produced and directed the documentary Vice & Consent, focusing on members of the BDSM scene in San Francisco. This documentary was adopted by Santa Clara University as part of their Human Sexuality program where Warshaw lectures regularly.
In 2004 classic video game enthusiasts were able to produce cartridges of Saboteur for sale at game expos. It debuted at PhillyClassic 5 where Warshaw was at hand to bless the distribution and autograph the cartridges. That year Atari also released the Atari Flashback system that includes fifteen Atari 2600 and five Atari 7800 titles, including Saboteur.
In his games, Warshaw is also known for always leaving his initials as an Easter egg. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, the player can find a "Yar". In E.T., the player can find both a "Yar" and an "Indy". In Yars' Revenge, sometimes the enemy will launch itself out of its protective shield at the player; with a well timed shot, the player can destroy the enemy instead of just avoiding it. When this happens, a black streak will appear in the explosion. If the player stays on this "mean streak" until the explosion is complete, HSWWSH (his initials forwards and backwards) appear on the screen, and end the game.
In 2011, Warshaw received a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. He was an intern psychotherapist in private practice specializing in couples and the unique stresses and challenges of Silicon Valley's Hi-tech community.
He has a role in the independent film Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, based on the web series by the same name. The movie involves the title character digging up the infamous E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial cartridges in the New Mexican landfill where millions of copies are believed to be buried. His role was originally going to be a main role, playing a "mad scientist" version of himself. Because of his involvement in psychotherapy, Warshaw requested to change his role to a cameo, playing as his actual self.
On November 14, 2012, Warshaw became a licensed psychotherapist in California. He has a private practice in Los Altos as well as doing public speaking and training delivery in the Silicon Valley area.
In June 2013, Warshaw became a contributing artist to the Museum of Modern Art in New York when Yars' Revenge was accepted as a part of their new video game collection. As of that time, this game became part of the museum's second round of additions, out of the first twenty-one total items, in their video game collection which had begun in late 2012.
- "Vice & Consent". Retrieved December 5, 2015.
- "DP Interviews...". Retrieved December 5, 2015.
- "DP Interviews". Digitpress.com. Retrieved 2012-12-04.
- "Howard Scott Warshaw". Retrieved December 5, 2015.
- "Yars' Revenge at the MoMA collection". Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
- Galloway, Paul (June 28, 2013). "Video Games: Seven More Building Blocks in MoMA’s Collection". Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
- Antonelli, Paola (November 29, 2013). "Video Games: 14 in the Collection, for Starters". Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved July 7, 2013.