So before hearing about how Mobiclip came about, I’d like to ask about how the two of you came to discover computers and technology in the first place. So Jérôme, how did you get into computers, technology and science?
When I was quite young, around 12, I discovered a European computer called the ZX813. And then after using computers for a while I discovered the NES4.That’s how I found out about video games and that’s when I knew that I would work in the video game industry.3. ZX81: A popular low-cost programmable personal computer released by a UK company called Sinclair in 1981.4. NES: A home games console first released in Japan in July 1983. It was later released in Europe in 1986.
What made computers or video games attractive for you? What drew you into this?
It’s hard to say… probably my “NERD” side. (laughs) Computers are very logical and I love logic. You need to have mathematical skills and logical skills in this area, and that’s probably what attracted me, because at that time I really loved maths and science in general.
Back when you discovered computers there was no Internet and no manuals to teach you, so I imagine you must have mainly taught yourself. How did you acquire all your technical knowledge about computers?
At the beginning we had a few books about CPUs and coprocessors5 and I started out by reading them. But it was quite hard because most of the books were in English and I had basically no English skills at the time.
However, later on I had more access to English books and computer books. The knowledge of my younger days helped me a lot.5. Coprocessor: A computer processor that supplements the central processing unit (CPU).
So you learned English by reading computer books?
Yes, in the beginning.
I don’t think the books available at the time explained much about how microprocessors6 worked or explained what was happening inside game consoles. I suppose you tried to find ways of teaching yourself.6. Microprocessors: Processing units which incorporate several functions in order to perform programs on a single chip as an integrated circuit.
That’s right. At the time the books were quite basic, so I had to do a lot of investigation to try to find ways to exploit the computer power myself. This was very time consuming, obviously.
But you had time then?
Yes. Although I was supposed to be studying for school.
Your mother didn’t approve of it. (laughs)
Yeah, exactly. (laughs)
What about you, Alex? How did you discover computers?
I was a bit younger, around 8 years old. My father bought a computer one day. He’s not a scientist or anything, he just bought it because he thought it seemed cool.
At the time you couldn’t do anything with a computer without writing a program by yourself.
Exactly. I think I was part of a blessed generation where you couldn’t just buy software that would run straight away, and you had to program everything yourself. So basically I started programming very early. At the time I didn’t connect this with the Game & Watch7 I saw people had at school. My parents didn’t want to buy me one and I didn’t understand that the same technology was behind the two things. I was trying to program funny things, but it was only much later that I understood that consoles and computers were essentially similar.7. Game & Watch: A handheld LCD gaming device released in 1980.
How did you feel when you got your first computer?
My first computer gave me a feeling of being powerful. It was much more than just a toy. There was no limit to your imagination, just the limit of your skills and that was very exciting for me. I was skilled at maths, and throughout my studies I was hesitating between pursuing pure maths research and applying mathematics to generate attractive artificial worlds. That’s why when Jérôme suggested that I jump into the video game industry I just couldn’t resist the temptation.
So you were a boy who liked science, had a background in maths and then discovered computers and video games? Actually it was just the same for me. Perhaps we could say we were just born as “NERD”s. (laughs)
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