As a child, Patrick Hickey Jr. played various video games such as Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog, Pokémon, and many others, a habit that continues on to this day. Though he enjoyed playing video games, he never stopped to think who created and developed these games in the first place.
A few years later, as a student at Brooklyn College, Hickey was the Editor-In-Chief and Sports Editor of The Kingsman. He went on to become a News Editor at NBC Local Integrated and the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program in Kingsborough Community College.
As the time went on, Hickey felt content with his life as a journalist, professor, husband, and soon-to-be dad, but he still wanted to go on a new adventure. After reading Brett Weiss’s book “The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987,” he found one.
As a gamer and journalist who interviews celebrities, musicians, actors, comic book writers/illustrators and many others on his website ReviewFix.com, Hickey figured he could write his own video game book. Instead of being heavily invested in research done on the Internet or writing a strict opinion piece, however, he decided to write it as a journalistic narrative guided by the people who actually developed and created games.
For nearly a year, Hickey would often spend four to six hours a day writing chapters and another five to six hours thinking, planning, organizing, preparing interviews, sending pitches and e-mailing developers; combined, he spent a total of ten hours a day working on his book.
“It was crazy, you grew up your entire life playing these games, and you have no idea who they are,” said Hickey. “You started talking to them and they’re super freaking cool. They were super energetic and passionate people and I felt like this is something I should have done a really long time ago. It is a love letter to my appreciation of the video game industry.”
This approach led to “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” an in-depth look at 36 of the most unique video games of all time. The book covers everything from the edutainment classic “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” to the revolutionary first-person-shooter “Doom.” Other games covered in the book include the Atari 2600 bestseller “Yars’ Revenge,” the arcade classic “Mortal Kombat,” and the infamous 1992 Sega CD horror game “Night Trap,” which was condemned for its depictions of violence against women in a high-profile Senate hearing.
Hickey obtained the publishing deal from McFarland Books last December, and though he was able to get enough developers to start writing the book, he hit a barrier. He reached a point where he had nothing else to write and feared he may not have enough content.
But Hickey wasn’t alone as he received encouragement from friends and family.
“When he first told me that he wasn’t too sure how many sources he able to get, I said to him, ‘You’re you, you are Patrick Hickey,’” said Sulaiman Larokko, the Journalism Lab Assistant of the Journalism Department at Kingsborough Community College. “I always knew that as soon he started writing, that everything was going to fall right into place.”
Determined to write his book, Hickey sent out an additional 30 pitches in December and January after sending out over 100 pitches in October and November to various game developers, hoping he would get at least a few responses back and it worked, as multiple game developers replied back.
What was supposed to be 75,000 words quickly became a 100,000 word adventure, as Hickey felt he captured something special and wanted to use every word possible to tell the story of all these game developers.
“Whether it was over the phone, through e-mail, or even in person, they told me all these cool little stories about the games, some of them you’d never expect,” said Hickey. “Just finding out stuff that nobody else knew, I always have this little smile on my face, ‘they’re telling me something that’s really good,’ and I got one of those for every single chapter.”
Though the process of interviewing and writing about these game developers was fun, a slight complication arose.
After writing multiple chapters, Hickey’s publisher informed him that he needed each developer to sign a release waiver. Though a few were hesitant to sign at first, Hickey convinced every single one to sign.
There are many video game books that are dedicated to the opinions of an author or heavily invested in research, rather than focusing on the narrative of the developers that created those games. “The Mind Behind the Games” is solely invested through a journalistic method: interviewing people, spending time with them and investing oneself in the culture of video game developers, making it different from the rest.
“There are so many great people out that have done great things and people don’t know,” said Hickey. “I hope that people read the book and learn what made these games so engaging, what made these people unique, their stories and all of the factors that lead these games to become what they eventually became, that’s my goal.”
Aside from writing about video game developers, Hickey is also involved in the creation of a video game. Hickey is a story editor and voice actor for the upcoming indie game “The Padre,” a suspenseful survival-horror adventure game developed by Shotgun with Glitters. “The Padre” follows a Catholic priest and seasoned demon hunter, tasked to find Cardinal Benedictus in a mansion filled with supernatural beings on the Mississippi Delta.
“I went from journalist, author, professor one second to story editor and voice actor the next,” said Hickey.
As a journalist and a published author, Hickey enjoys writing too much to stop and already has another book on the way.
The new book will focus on what it’s like to be a professional wrestler, drawing from the insight of actual wrestlers such as Diamond Dallas Page, The Kingdom, Santana Garrett, and Paul Heyman. Hickey writes about their experiences on wrestling on the indie scene, developing and maintaining a character, being a woman, being of different sexual orientation in wrestling, and much more.
From a Brooklyn College student to a journalist and published author, it is always pleasing to see a former student succeeding
in life; just ask Professor Anthony Mancini, director of the journalism program at Brooklyn College.
“It is always gratifying to see a student achieve a level of success and put into practice some of the techniques of successful writing that I tried to instill,” said Mancini. “I can’t take much credit for Pat’s success: he is a dynamo, one of the most hard-working persons I have ever known.”
Never one to take a break, Hickey has several projects he wants to complete for the future. Such projects include creating a video game, continuing an unfinished comic book series, finding new roles as a voice actor, and even writing a play.
“Everyday I do something that makes me happy, I do something bringing me to the place that I want to be,” said Hickey. “That’s my future: continue doing stuff, whether it be promoting this book, helping someone else promote something, doing voice acting, skills, teaching, developing new courses, you just do [it] every day.”
“The Minds Behind the Games”
is to be released in the first
quarter of 2018.