deutsche_woche.jpg I am terribly late as usual, being European, but I saw this Code Monkeys television show mentioned on Kotaku or one of those other Augenbrennanspielesiten. It has apparently been renewed for another season.

Note: I do not get the G4 channel here in Germany, but I have seen photos of Olivia Munn in a Princess Leia bikini and Blair Butler dressed as a Stormtrooper, so I feel familiar with the basic gestalt.

Code Monkeys is about two young men who work at a game company in 1980s, and their wild and supposedly humorous antics. It is animated in a pixelized style in order to “look like a video game”, says the director. Well, as my friend Bruno and I were game company employees of a sort in the 1980s, I wanted to see what this was all about, so I went to the YouTube.

code-monkeys.jpgThere I found one clip from the show in which a monkey had sexual intercourse with a woman’s head. Another episode featured a man who took off his pants and painted his genitals green. There were also several bong jokes.

This is not the kind of thing that went on at game companies in the 1980s, not in Germany at least. Many years before I founded Schadenfreude Interactive in 1995, Bruno and I ran a small game company out of his father’s garden shed. Back in these days, you programmed a game, copied it onto a floppy disk, put this disk in a plastic bag (or paper bag if you, like us, could not afford plastic) and took it to the local software-and-board-game shop where it was sold on commission.

In addition to this, Bruno and I had a fledgling business designing small runs of coin-op arcade games, mostly clones of popular American games like Joust, Qbert and Dig Dug.

We did not have any monkeys.
We did not paint any body parts green, or any other color.
We did not have any bongs.

We did dull things like write code and solder circuit boards for our arcade machine prototypes. Sometimes we would drink a little beer and talk about skiing. Old Mr. Drachenfutter next door would come over and drink a little of our beer and ask us each day what we were doing. He could not understand the new technology of course, so we would tell him something different every time he asked:

“We are making submarine vents”.
“We are sending letters to the King of England”.
“We are making animatronic teddy bears that talk”.

These silly answers made him very happy, but perhaps that was just because he was away from Mrs. Drachenfutter.


Wild game company antics were far and few between. Although one winter -- perhaps 1984 -- we were working on the Grabungadung cocktail-table prototype which we had fashioned from the bottom of a pickle barrel, and Bruno was sitting in the barrel soldering. The yard was a bit icy and suddenly the barrel slid down the hill, through the open gate and all the way down to the bottom of the strasse! Oh, the look on his face. It was to laugh, like he was riding the teacups at the Eurodisney! In my mind when I remember this the soundtrack is always “Yakety Sax” (apologies -- all I could find with the song was this video of a shrimp)

Luckily a truck finally broke his descent, but he still has the scar from the soldering iron.

Would this not make an excellent television show? I imagine this animated in vector style, so that it truly looks like a game of the time. I would like to be voiced by Rutger Hauer. Bruno, I think, would be Bruno Ganz. Hopefully we could find a part for Heidi Klum, although Mrs. Drachenfutter looked nothing like her. It is vector graphics after all, who will know the difference?

Note: That graphic on the right is only a mock-up (those green pants make me look very fat!).

I think this show would be enjoyed by small children. It would be relatively gentle and engaging, yet the adults would understand the jokes about burning EPROMS, and the vector art style would appeal to teenagers who would feel as though they were hallucinating. Thus it would work on many levels, much like the Teletubbies.


Note: I do enjoy the music of Jonathan Coulton, and so was saddened to see his "Code Monkey" song used as the theme of this lesser Code Monkeys. If he would like to write a song for our show, it would be most appreciated (if the song could have some accordion in it, all the better).

Perhaps you think a show about our company would be boring. Maybe I am just old and thus no longer amused by a monkey having its way with a woman's face, even in a cartoon. Or maybe it is just that I do not like monkeys, whether they are coding monkeys or those who only know Visual Basic. But you know what is the more funny? Real life. And there are few monkeys in real life, unless you are a zookeeper -- in which case I applaud your bravery, and I would say also, keep them away from your face.

-- Karsden