Dr. Matt Barton is a tenured associate professor of English at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, where he has been teaching courses in writing and technology since 2005. He is the producer of "Matt Chat," a weekly YouTube program featuring interviews with noted videogame developers and in-depth retrospectives of great videogames. He's the author of Honoring the Code: Conversations with Great Game Designers and Dungeons & Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing Games. He's the co-author of Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time. He lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, with his wife Elizabeth.

Honoring the Code by Matt Barton

If you want to be successful in any area of game development—game design, programming, graphics, sound, or publishing—you should know how standouts in the industry approach their work and address problems. In Honoring the Code: Conversations with Great Game Designers, 16 groundbreaking game developers share their stories and offer advice for anyone aspiring to a career in the games industry. You'll learn from their triumphs and failures and see how they dealt with sweeping changes in technology, including critical paradigm shifts from CD-ROMs and 3D graphic cards to the Internet and mobile revolution.

The book presents in-depth interviews with a diverse mix of game professionals, emphasizing the makers of adventure games, role-playing games, and real-time strategies. It focuses on developers who have contributed to multiple eras or genres as well as those who have hired, taught, or mentored newcomers. Since the mobile revolution has opened up new demographics and new gameplay mechanics, the book features current developers of games for mobile devices. It also explores how indie game developers are making commercial-quality games with a small team mostly using free tools and funded with crowdsourcing applications.

While there are plenty of resources available for aspiring game developers to learn the necessary technical skills, there is hardly any historical material on the culture that made the games industry possible. Filling the void, this book provides a historical and cultural context for the games industry. It takes you into the minds of the pioneers who blazed the trails and established the industry as we know it today.


There's nothing better for a historian than pulling up a chair and listening to creators describe how they do what they do. Matt Barton's Honoring the Code gathers stories from legends of our industry such as John Romero, Tim Cain, and Brian Fargo, but he also honors the code of programmers such as Rebecca "Burger Becky" Heineman by documenting their stories of life on the front lines of making fun. – David L. Craddock



  • "Fans of classic games will appreciate the insider stories and explanations of the reasoning behind particular choices in game play and development. Students of game history will benefit from the detailed look at specific moments in the development of many significant games. The author is obviously very knowledgeable and passionate about games and communicates that clearly throughout the text. … Summing Up: Recommended. Students of all levels in game design programs; general readers."

    – E. Bertozzi, Long Island University, in CHOICE
  • "… a pick for any computer science collection strong in game development and here provides the insights and experiences of sixteen groundbreaking game developers who share their stories and experiences. From their successes and failures to the evolving gaming industry, this provides in-depth interviews that emphasize the creators of adventure and role-playing games and real-time strategies. Interview questions are specific and lend to in-depth and unique answers … From games designers play to insights on audiences, markets, and more, this is a fine pick for any game designer and computer collections catering to them."

    – California Bookwatch, November 2013



If you're reading this book, then I'm guessing you feel like I do about videogames. They're fantastic, awesome, great, amazing, spectacular, the best damn thing in the universe. They have just as much (if not more) cultural importance to me than any book, movie, or album. Videogames aren't a waste of time. Time is a waste of videogames.

I encourage you to adopt a similar attitude. Next time someone scolds you for all the time you spend gaming, please thank them sincerely for wasting theirs.

Are videogames art? Considering some people still ask the same of a Picasso or a Pollock, I really don't think I'm going to be changing anybody's mind about Pac-Man. Fortunately, I don't need to do that here. I can already tell you're on my side about all this. We can appreciate videogames because we've been playing them since were old enough to roll a quarter into a slot or press play on a tape. But I want you to take one further step, and go from being a simple consumer of videogames to a connoisseur.

As with any field of creative endeavor, there are those who wish to do more than simply experience the art. We want to know something about how it was made, and by whom, and for what reason. We wish to get into the head of the artist to understand the confluence of energy, passion, and craziness that somehow results in a masterpiece. The creators of great videogames are not normal people. Just talk to them. Yet they think we're nuts for actually paying them to make these things. Now, that's not to say they wouldn't like more money. With more money they could make more games! Oh, and eat!