A “The Real Matt Hazard”: Reader Q n’ A

An Exclusive Chat With Video Game Icon, Ralph Tokey

Photo of Ralph Tokey from the 1985 Marathon Company Report

Ralph Tokey, circa 1985, Marathon Company Report

Did you know that in the short month or so that I’ve been writing this blog, The Real Matt Hazard has had WELL OVER 5,000 visitors?  Ya.  Amazing.  Thanks for being part of it and caring about the history of video games.

As a thank you, I just wanted to answer some of the questions that have been emailed to me on the past 2 weeks or so.  I’ll continue the blog very soon – the next update will be a character profile of one of Matt Hazard’s most feared foes!

On with the Exclusive Ralph Tokey Interview!!

What the hell is this Matt Hazard thing?

To put it simply — Matt Hazard is the baddest-ass, gunnest-toting, America-Firstest, Red-white-and-blue-bleedingest, change that we needest, hero-who-gets-the-girl-and-leaves-her-heartbroken-after-two-weeks-of-playing-in-the-sun-stroked-beaches-of-the-Caribbean, video game character of all time.

We created him in the 80s in an arcade machine and he grazed just about every system out there.  Except for the failed 3DO SKU, which only partially shipped. It carried an MSRP of $734.47.  Or something around there.

I saw an interview on GameSpot where some guys claimed that they made you up and created this blog as an advertising campaign.  What do you think of that?

Honestly?  Those guys are douchebags.  And, totally untrue.

Is Matt Hazard REALLY that tough?

If paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, and scissors beats paper… what beats all three at once?  Matt Hazard.

What is with the one bumpy shoulderpad on Matt Hazard?

Our original artist was a lefty.  He didn’t like to draw on the right side of the page and so he cheated.  Plus – inside secret – Matt Hazard’s right shoulder has always been programmed to be indestructible.

Where is Matt Hazard’s hair?

On his chest.  Thick, fuzzy, monkey hair.

If Lord OctoSurgeon is able to cast terrifying eyeballs… why can’t he cast terrifying fists?

That’s preposterous.  Nobody can “cast” a fist.  n00b.

BTW, did you know that OctoSurgeon didn’t actually have 8 appendages?  It’s true… he had 4, but he also had an extra 4 that were the appendages of a consumed, unborn twin.

Who the hell are YOU?

Not that I care for the tone, but I am the former VP of Marketing and Public Relations for Marathon Software, creators of Matt Hazard and pioneers of the video game industry you know and love today.  Without Hazard and Marathon… there is no jumping plumber.  There is no Space Marine.  There is no “open-world sandbox” gameplay.   There is no online persistent world.

Without Matt Hazard, the automatons at mega video corporations would be making Computer Tennis 32:  The Fight for Paddle Supremacy right now!

I was responsible for some of the greatest marketing and PR innovations that the industry is so used to now.  A short list of what I did first:

  • Fake Screenshots: Sometimes we took photos of the staff around the office holding guns and then passed them off as amazing leaps in 8-bit graphics.
  • Renders and Paintings: passed off as “target graphics” – why show what the game looks like when you can show what you want it to look like?
  • Expensive Swag: mailings to editors to earn better reviews – I once sent each editor a 25 lb gold bar for the Fistful of Hazard review program.  We scored 113% on MegaCritic… of course, they assign a 250/100 for an “A” so it’s slightly skewed.
  • Extravagant Junkets: involving booze, strippers, pools, beaches and repeated adventures in Cabos San Lucas, Mexico
Dinner At The First "Marathon Mexican Media Meeting (MMMM...)

Dinner At The First "Marathon Mexico Media Meeting" (MMMM...)

  • The “A4S” Program: “Advertising for Scores” pioneered the art of bribing publishers to reign in “free-thinking” editorial staffs
  • (!!!!): Excessive use of exclamation points – more exclamations = more sales.  Period!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Blackbeard’s Crew: That’s what we called the cursed journalists – the ones who scored Matt Hazard’s games below an 87.5 and therefore would never receive review copes again.  At one point, this included everyone in the video game press corps except one guy at a great little magazine called “Hazard Fancy.”

Do you have ANY information about this new game?  It seems like you’re on the outside.

Fair enough – I AM on the outside of D3’s new game and I would never have named it Eat Lead… although I am still convinced that goes back to my last words in the office… “Eat S***!”  However, I am quite familiar with the history of Matt Hazard – his games, the storylines and the characters…

To prove it to you – my next blog post will be a character profile… stay tuned.

What do you think was your single most important contribution to the video game industry?  Personally?

Back in 1986, we held a high level meeting at Marathon Software involving the product plan.  The idea was that we should diversify and define a “slate” of new products to be introduced over the next 36 months and we would decide this in a series of meetings dubbed “greenlight” meetings.

Some of the people on our PD staff were incredibly excited – this meant that new ideas, new gameplay styles and new franchises could be developed and we could extend our reach with fun and interesting content of the highest quality.  Some publishers have tried to copy this formula.

That’s my greatest contribution — the recognition that what people REALLY want are sequels upon sequels from the same characters with the same gameplay, but with the walls painted different colors!  Take your successful main character and just put him in ALL styles of games, don’t make new games with new characters.

All the mega successful publishers followed this trend.  Take a look – how many Elf, Plumber, Skateboarding and WWII games have you played?

Same game + different color scheme = MONEY IN THE BANK.  I did that.

You’re an asshat and represent everything that is wrong with this industry.  I hate you, you miserable marketing scum.

Haha!  Great quote from You only Live 1,317 Times!  Thanks for the shout-out!

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