Windows 10…

Somewhere in the world, Al Lowe is laughing… After the break…

Windows 10…

“Al Lowe” is a fairly common name but, when referring to the field of computer game history, there is only one “Al Lowe” that comes into sharp focus: The man who worked for Sierra Entertainment as both game designer, musician and programmer.

Al Lowe’s fingerprints are on a surprising number of Sierra games, from “Police Quest I” to the early Disney-licensed games such as “The Black Cauldron” to the flagship series “King’s Quest” and to the more obscure ‘one-off’ titles such as “Freddy Pharkas” and “Torin’s Passage.”

Yet Al Lowe, removed from a miraculous second act that has yet to materialize (but is not needed, as his first act is admittedly quite admirable in scope), shall always be remembered for three words:

Leisure Suit Larry.

“Leisure Suit Larry” was not the first adult computer game but, quite honestly, was the first mainstream adult computer game. It was the adult computer game that was “OK” to buy and be seen with. It was the “Playboy magazine” of adult computer games – Adult? Yes, but you could always claim (more legitimately than with the magazine) that you were only interested in it for the articles. Humor blunted the game’s otherwise risque offerings and, given computing hardware’s limitation at the time (of which there were many), the mature content was often suggestive and adult rather than graphic or erotic. “Leisure Suit Larry” wasn’t so much an adult film poured into a computer game with a laugh track but rather an R-rated comedy with more nudity than the typical fare.

So, what does “Leisure Suit Larry” have to do with Windows 10, the upcoming operating system from Microsoft?

It’s not what they have in common but it’s what they never had that they have in common… If that makes sense.

See, one of the major aspects of Leisure Suit Larry is that it was originally conceived of as a trilogy. There was Leisure Suit Larry 1, 2 & 3. Leisure Suit Larry 3 ended rather definitively. Leisure Suit Larry, the main character of the series, finally matures emotionally and decides to marry, thus ending his amorous and adult adventures.

Until Leisure Suit Larry 5, of course.

With Microsoft, a majority of people know of the general line of succession in Microsoft operating systems. Windows 3.1, Windows 95, 98, 2000, Vista, XP, 7, 8, 8.1… and then Windows 10.

Do you see it now?

In many ways, Windows “ended” with the highly popular Windows XP which had a very successful 10-year run. Since the end of general Windows XP support, the Windows operating system has had a decline in popularity and adoption. Windows 8 is now popularly regarded as a failure, mainly because it alienated a majority of desktop users when Microsoft abandoned the popular “Start Menu” and initially opted for a more “tablet”-oriented main screen that confused traditional users. Such familiar features were back in Windows 8.1 but the damage (in public relations) had already been done.

Similarly, Al Lowe was stuck in how to paint himself out of a corner he had painted himself into. The ending for LSL3 was fairly airtight. Depending on what you believe, the fourth installment was either a failed attempt at a multiplayer game that never materialized or an internal off-the-cuff remark made at Sierra that turned into a running joke that became integrated into the series itself like a broken ‘fourth wall.’

Regardless, it seems particularly odd that a skipped number for Leisure Suit Larry was due to a momentary quip while, at Microsoft, a skipped number is a serious marketing plan.

Somewhere in the world, Al Lowe is laughing… And who can blame him?


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