Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bill Kunkel is Dead

One of the great things about living my life is that I've met some of the most interesting and unique people in this world. And no one was more original than Bill Kunkel.

Kunkel was into video games before anyone I knew. He'd been doing it for like ten years when I got into the industry in the late 80's. He was part of KKW - Katz, Kunkel Worley Inc. Arnie Katz, Bill Kunkel and Joyce Worley were game designers and writers. They built this kind of magical world inside this small house in Las Vegas.

A Bill Kunkel Story - Mike Legg (Petroglyph Games), Bill Kunkel and I were at Louis Castle's(EA, Zynga) house. Louis and his wife Donna had these incredible Christmas parties. It was getting toward the end and Mike, Bill and I were just sitting on the floor talking, next to this enormous Christmas tree.

I remember that Bill wasn't paying attention to what were talking about. He kept looking up at the tree.

Finally I had to ask. "What's wrong Bill? You seem distracted."

Bill didn't answer. He just pointed to the top.

Donna had put this little animatronic angel in place of the star on the tree. It was dressed in white robes holding a small lit candled that illuminated its cherub face. The angel methodically swayed back and forth waving the candle in a slow-motion figure eight. Over and over again.

Bill said something to the affect that the little creature was freaking him out and I think Mike Legg named it, the White Angel. The whole conversation turned to speaking about the White Angel. In our minds, it no longer was a cute, little Christmas ornament. But a small, impish creature perched on top of the tree, scanning for its next victim.

We even had this movie intro voice for it - you have to say it like Tiny Tim and draw it out. -- The White Angel .. The White Angel.

It was so good it was evil.

The conversation expanded to other small, evil creatures and that's the start of the infamous LEM's - Little Evil Men.

Finally, Bill got so freaked out by the whole thing he had to leave and I don't think Christmas was ever the same for him.

Bill Kunkel died on Sunday night of an apparent heart attack. I'm shocked and stunned. I get this strange dread when people like Bill die - usually whole eras end with them.

I think the toughest thing now for Bill is to choose between video game heaven and wrestler's heaven. I think I know which one he chose.

(This was a long time ago - so my memory is a bit rough on the events and if you've been to any of the Castle parties you have a hard time remembering what happened the day after)

Wired Story - Bill Kunkel

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