Interview mit Al Lowe (Leisure Suit Larry)

Wie ich mein Interview mit Al Lowe vermasselte

Peter Klement macht einen Ausflug in der Vergangenheit und spricht mit dem Erfinder von Larry

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Die Geschichte fängt vor über einer Dekade im Arbeitszimmer eines Verwandten an: Dort versuchte eine Horder Jungs in unterschiedlichen Pubertierungsstadien vor einem 286 mit ihrem begrenzten arkanen Wissen, Leisure Suite Larry zu laden. Der Computer war damals ein magisches Gerät, der weise Onkel der große Magus und ich einer der Zauberlehrlinge, der begierig lernte, wie man High Memory frei schaufelte und motherfucking Turboknöpfe in PCs einbaute. Mit Leisure Suite Larry bekam ich ein Spiel in die Finger, in dem ich Leute per Kommandozeile Sex haben lassen konnte — damit fing der ganze Ärger an…

Leisure Suit Larry war toll, weil es verboten war: Schmutzige Worte! Verbotene Dinge, wie Drogen, Alkohol, Glücksspiel und Prostituierte und all das war nur ein Tastaturkommando von mir entfernt! Der Zauberlehrling glaubte, das verbotene Buch gefunden zu haben. Realistischerweise habe ich damals auf dem Schulhof schon schmutzigere Zoten gehört und Unanständigeres in der Bravo gelesen. Doch über Leisure Suit Larry erzählten sich die Adepten des Personal Computers hinter vorgehaltener Hand unglaubliche Mythen: Nackte Frauen sollte es dort geben, sogar Sexszenen und schmuddelige Worte in einer fremden Sprache warteten darauf, entdeckt zu werden. In einer Zeit, in der die anderen Spiele Jump’n’Runs und Shoot’em ups waren, die es auch auf dem kinderfreundlichen Game Boy gab, waren die Abenteuer eines 38 Jahre alten Losers etwas Verruchtes, in dem verbotenes Wissen schlummerte. Was ich mitnahm war, dass ein anderes Wort für „condom“ „lubber“ ist, dass man nicht Spanische Fliege konsumieren sollte, wie man Black Jack spielt und das „hooker“ „Prostituierte“ bedeutet.

Etliche Jahre später, nach einem Germanistikstudium, inklusive einem Seminar über Schweinkram in der Literatur, sehe ich, dass Al Lowe, der Vater der Larry-Reihe, auf der Respawn im Rahmen der gamescom einen Vortrag zu seiner erfolgreichen Kickstarter-Kampagne zum Relaunch seines ersten Spiels hält. Rainer Brüderle ist zu diesem Zeitpunkt schon eine Fußnote im Wikipedia-Artikel zum Herrenwitz, über den ich in der Zwischenzeit deutlich mehr weiß als noch vor einer Dekade und ein paar Zerquetschten. Eine etwas schnodderige Mail von meiner Seite und vielen hilfreichen Antworten von Aruba Events und United Independent Entertainment später ist das Interview klargemacht, und ich harre der Dinge, die da kommen.

Es ist Mittwoch, 15:30 Uhr, „Fachbesuchertag“ auf der Gamescom. Ich bin unfassbar müde, denn gestern auf der Respawn war es spät, Bier und ein tolles aus Holz namens Kubb tragen Schuld daran. Eigentlich sollte ich um 15:00 Uhr Al Lowe interviewen, doch er ist verschwunden. Irgendwann bringt mich Paul Trowe zu meinem ziemlich abgekämpft aussehenden Interviewpartner. Ich stelle mich vor, erkläre kurz das Thema, was direkt gegen die Wand fährt, da weder der Begriff „gentleman’s joke“ noch „lad’s joke“ verstanden werden. Ich behelfe mir mit einer umständlichen Erklärung, stelle fest, dass das Diktiergerät sich entschieden hat, launisch zu werden, denke mir „Fuck“ und beginne mit einem schlechten Gefühl das folgenden Interview.

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Peter: Please introduce yourself.

Al Lowe: I’m Al Lowe creator of Leisure Suite Larry.

Peter Klement: I learned a couple of things from Leisure Suit Larry back in the days when I played it. Which at the time was totally forbidden for me because I was only twelve: I learned English, I learned that another word for condom is „lubber“ and I learned the rules of Black Jack, which is still the only card game I’m able to play. The other thing that I realized much later that Leisure Suit Larry is a very special game, because it’s full of what in Germany would be called „ein gepflegter Herrenwitz“ for which unfortunately there is no american expression and the closest thing would be a dirty joke. So why are there so many dirty jokes in Leisure Suit Larry and why make game that features a plethora of them?

Al Lowe: I wanted to make a game that made people laugh and I wanted to create a game that wasn’t like all the other games out there on the market. I had the idea in mind that if I could speak to the gamer the way that I talk with other guys in the locker room, that there would be a big market for that and it proved to be correct.

Peter: Larry is bit of an oddball, there are plenty of sympathetic loser characters out there. Most of the Lucas Arts adventures feature types like that. But Larry is a 40 year old virgin, 38 in the first game, looking to get laid. That’s an interesting premise to start an adventure game. Why choose such a character?

Al Lowe: I wanted a character that I could make fun off, who is easy to laugh at. You said that there were many characters like that, but there weren’t back then. When we first came up with that, it was unique. There were heroes, but there were no anti heroes. It was a new concept at that time. I wanted a way to be able to make fun of the character and that is one of the reasons that the narrator was so integral to the game itself: Because I needed to have someone in the game who would talk down to Larry from a superior position. It was basically a way to make people laugh.

Peter: Is this the reason Larry has such a very short live expectancy. The original had two hours of play time before Larry would commit suicide, because he failed to achieve his goal to get properly laid and you had plenty occasions where you would die quite surprisingly, for example by flushing the toilet. Was this part of the concept too?

Al Lowe: The original game did have a timer in it that I think most people probably didn’t find. But yeah, if you spend to long playing the game, it would time out and Larry would commit suicide. But the new game Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded that is now out for the first the time does not have a timer like that. It’s partly because we’ve included so much new dialog and jokes, so much more humor that we had to increase the time so that you could enjoy the humor as you played the game. I want to encourage people to play it and so they can discover that we’ve put at least five times the dialog in this game, compared to the old version. It’s not the same old game at all. If you know the old one, you’ll be surprised in many places.

Peter: For me Leisure Suit Larry was fascinating because it was a forbidden game: It had sex, semi-naked women and you type things like „make love“ – but „fuck hooker“ would also work. Is that still an appeal now?

Al Lowe: Since there is no typing in the new game, it’s not really pertinent anymore. At the time I wanted to create a game that would recognize as many words as possible. You have to remember this was 25 years ago and we were dealing with a game that was too big for one 360k floppy disk. We had to use two 360k floppy discs. Today your wrist watch has more memory than this whole game took back then. But there is no typing in the new game, so we’ve included a zipper icon, that you can use on various things in the game to get some kind of answer, which reflects one of two possible uses, you then have to figure out.

Peter: Al Bundy for example is very much like Larry and he was phenomenon of the 80ies or 90ies.

Al Lowe: He actually came along after Larry.

Peter: But there were quite a lot of characters of that type.

Al Lowe: There have always have been a lot characters of that type.

Peter: Does have Larry have a place now?

Al Lowe: If our inital sales are any indication, he certainly does. We’ve been quite successful with the game on Windows, Linux, Macintosh and in the apple iTunes store. Recently we’ve released an android version that is doing quite all. Evidently there are still a lot of people, who are interested in laughter and a guy who has trouble having sex is always pretty funny. It’s pretty easy to laugh at that.

Peter: Which brings me to another topic. I’ve found that you have a thing called CyberJoke 3000 and a lot of these jokes would also qualify as „Herrenwitz“. The one I intially saw is gone and I couldn’t find it again, but it involved a divorce lawyer and a strap-on. To retell it vaguely: A guy takes a woman on a date and they end up in a hotel bed, where the woman pulls out a massive strap on, seeing that the guy yells „Oh no, you’re a divorce lawyer!“.

Al Lowe: That’s pretty close to the joke. Actually in Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded there is a comedy shop with a comedian and he tells jokes professionally, it allows you to hear the jokes performed by a professional comedian as opposed to you or I. But yeah, my website allowe.com does have access to thousands of jokes. I have database there with over 6000 jokes, many of which are clean and I also have a daily joke e-mail, which I send out to thousands of people every day. Get your daily joke for free!

Peter: What is your favorite joke?

Al Lowe: I don’t have a favorite joke. It depends on what the subject matter is, what the topic is and who the company is. I know a lot of jokes.

Peter: What would be your favorite „Herrenwitz“?

Al Lowe: Since we’re at conference full of professional game creators and people in the games business, how about a programmer joke?

Peter: Hit me.

Al Loew: Alright: There are only 10 kinds of people in this world: Those who understand binary and those who don’t.

Peter: That is one of the jokes you can’t ever write down, but because then it becomes to easy. But now it’s time for a little double en tendre: “It takes leather balls to play rugby.”

Al Lowe: (chuckles) That’s a favorite.

Peter: What does it take to make Larry games?

Al Lowe: Oh, it takes a lot of hard work. I don’t think people understand just how hard it is to make a game and especially to make a comedy game. Comedy is very difficult in video games, because people want to have the freedom to do what they want when they want it. But that is kind of the opposite of comedy: There you need to know what people know and when they know it, so you can set up a joke with a punchline that surprises the audience. It’s difficult and hard work but it’s rewarding in the end when I meet people who say that I taught them English or that I made them laugh.

Peter: One thing I’d like to ask: Are there are any future plans. Because Larry had six installments and there was this mini-game collection Magna Cum Laude.

Al Lowe: I had nothing to do with Magna Cum Laude, so I have no comment on that.

Peter: Are there plans to bring Larry back fulltime and I think he had a girlfriend at one point who later had her own game.

Al Lowe: Replay games has announced that we’re going to release a Leisure Suit Larry poker game that’ll be free to play on mobile devices and which will be out hopefully in time for christmas. That is the next title that we’ve announced. After that there are other things in the pipeline, but you’ll just have to come back here and we’ll talk again.

Peter: We’ll sure see about that. Thank you for your time and have a nice gamescom.

Al Lowe: Thank you very much.

Peter: Aaaand if I push the wrong button now, we’re screwed.

(pushes the right button)

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Das Interview stellte sich als brauchbar heraus. Die Erkenntnis daraus: Es gibt in jeder Familie einen Onkel, der nach zwei oder drei Gläsern Rotwein den gepflegten Herrenwitz auspackt und so für die Abendunterhaltung in der Herrenrunde sorgt, die sich zu diesem Zeitpunkt üblicherweise gebildet hat. Al Lowe ist einer dieser Onkel, nur dass er die ganze Welt an seinen Witzen teilhaben lassen will, die er schlicht und ergreifend witzig findet. Mit einem Begriff wie „Herrenwitz” kann Al Lowe nichts anfangen. Aus seiner Warte betrachtet, sind es nur Witze, und er möchte ein möglichst breites Repertoire davon besitzen. Genauso, wie der Onkel vermutlich nicht versteht, warum man denn jetzt auf einmal metamäßig über den Herrenwitz reden will, war eine Diskussion mit jemandem, der vor über 25 Jahren Spiele über Männerwitze machen wollte und heute noch immer macht, zum Scheitern verurteilt. In der WASD 3 steht bei der Selbstbeschreibung von Simon Tischer „Doch seit wann können Lurche einsehen, dass sie Lurche sind?“ Ein Satz, der zu Al Lowe wie die Faust aufs Auge passst. Der Mann liebt Comedy, nicht Kabarett, und die Metaebene hält nur unnötig vom Witzeerzählen ab. Doch immerhin lässt sich eine interessante Geschichte und die Erkenntnis daraus gewinnen, dass der Mythos nicht stimmt, dass eine Raubkopie von Leisure Suit Larry bei Erreichen der vollen Punktzahl die Festplatte formatiert. „Totally worth it!“ würde der Amerikaner sagen.

P.s.: Und er spielt Saxophon, ausgerechnet…

Im Netz:

Al Lowes Witze-Seite
Replay Games
Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded

2 Gedanken zu „Interview mit Al Lowe (Leisure Suit Larry)

  • 03.09.2013 um 15:22
    Permalink

    Schönes Stück und danke für deinen Mut, dich gegen jedwede Form von faulenzerischer Ausrede zu stellen.
    🙂

  • 03.09.2013 um 18:20
    Permalink

    Ich bin eigentlich großer Fan der faulenzerischen Ausrede…

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