2006_01_freeverse.jpgOccupation: Vice-President, Freeverse
Where: Chelsea

From what we've read, Freeverse was started to avoid looking for an actual job back in 1994. Tell us about that. And how has the NYC technology scene changed in the past decade or so?
Ian wrote "Hearts Deluxe" a card game for the Mac while he was out in L.A. killing time with a bunch of his post-grad friends who were aspiring to write screenplays, act, and valet park. He released it as
shareware on AOL, (this was almost pre-Web), and started getting checks in the mail.

Checks in the mail seemed like a good way to support his Doritos habit, so he moved back to NYC and Freeverse was born. Meanwhile, I was working for our Dad producing art fairs like The Outsider Art
Fair
.

But when the choice comes down to working for your Father or playing games and eating Doritos with your brother... well, I was pretty happy to be headhunted and join Freeverse. (I think I got my own bag
as a signing bonus).

Back then, at the start of the internet boom, it seemed like almost any idea was a path to success. (Ian and I had plans to set-up Hamazon.com as a holiday ham, meat-portal web-store at one point), and there was a ton of energy and plenty of stupidity swirling through Silicon Alley. Now there's a bit less stupidity, but I think some of the playfulness has disappeared too.

An early "toy" you created was the terrible singing smiley face, Jared, Butcher of Song (who was later featured in a Blockbuster commercial). Why do people love strange things they find on the Internet so much? And what are some that you've liked recently?
People want to share experiences; it's why seeing a movie in the theater is more intense than watching it on your TV at home, no matter how big the screen and subwoofer. So being able to email Jared or the Dancing Baby to someone and share your reaction with them (even if that reaction is pure revulsion), is appealing. Groups of friends, whole offices, get to share the experience without being in the same room.

I saw the Lazy Sunday video when it first aired on SNL and I thought it was funny but quickly forgot about it. But after I read about it becoming an internet phenomenon in The Times, I felt the need to download it and watch it again. That either reflects the desire we all have to not be left-behind by our culture, or my own lack of a real personality. I'm not sure which.

Tell us about the latest version of Comic Life.
Comic Life Deluxe is an amazing program created by the plasq collective which is a group of programmers, artists and sound designers on three different continents. Comic Life let's you take those boring vacation snapshots, or your standard cute baby photo and really jazz them up with comic-style fonts, word balloons, and other cool effects. It won the Apple Design Award for best new program for the Mac and we're really happy to be publishing it.

Most of your software is made for Macs (though you do create some games for Microsoft). Is it possible to draw an analogy between Mac and PC users by using NYC's boroughs?
That's the kind of question that's bound to get us into trouble! But if someone did a survey of laptops being used at Starbucks, you'd find a lot more Powerbooks and iBooks in Downtown Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn than Apple's 5% marketshare would indicate... and maybe fewer on Staten Island.

What is Freeverse working on now?
We're hoping to have a big game to announce at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco next week, we're also working on some things for the Xbox, and we're busy updating our whole suite of card games.

And we've heard that your offices have been used as settings for Law & Order! What was that like?
It's a real mess! They pack so much equipment, and so many people into the place that it's amazing there's any room left for the actors. It's a fascinating process, and they're real pros. They run the shoot like the invasion of Normandy. But after 70 grips, cameramen, teamsters, and Vincent D'onofrio have had their way with
your bathroom, you really appreciate the location fee.


And on NYC...
What's your favorite subway line?
The Third Avenue El. (I don't really like being underground, but I do
like history).

What's the best park?
When I was eleven or so I met "Poet O" on a bench in Abingdon Square. He told my friends and I an incredibly dirty poem about Charlie Brown. So Abingdon Square is the best park, and that was the best poem. Ever.


The best gallery in the neighborhood.
The best little gallery in New York is Kerrigan/Campbell (and that's not just because Caroline Kerrigan does the voice for one of our game characters).

Best/wost gentrification trend.
The best trend is that the city is definitely cleaner and safer... the worst trend is that we've lost some of the variety and flavor. Hopefully we'll never get so orderly that there wont be room for Poet O's on the park benches, and pottery shards on the lamp posts.

What the best place for a slice of pizza?
10th Avenue pizza at 25th and 10th has some of the most mediocre pizza you'll find this side of the Maghreb. But it's one of the greatest melting pots in Manhattan. The arabic owners and livery car drivers, the folks from the Elliott-Chelsea houses on 25th street, the gallery guys and girls, the construction workers putting up all those new High Line condos... it's worth the bad pizza for the New York experience.