Catherine Ryan
a.k.a. CJ or Fatrat

What have you created with ZZT, or related to ZZT?

I released two games, CJ Wuzzle and Yindle, as well as a 'cartoon' thing called Nev the Nerd.

When you think about ZZT, what games come to your mind and why?

The canonical ones of course: Code Red, Town, Sivion, Yapok, etc. But also Kudzu and pop, which are such sophisticated and atmospheric games. ZZT is of necessity a minimalist, restricted platform, aesthetically speaking. Nonetheless it has the ability to be suggestive and surreal, as these games demonstrate. They really engaged the imagination.

The other unforgettable thing is the music, particularly that of Greg Janson. I'd love to know what this guy is up to now, as there are some gems in his composition. I hope he's making hundreds of thousands producing impeccable pop songs somewhere, as he achieved amazing things with a monovocal PC speaker (!). And that's to leave out the brilliance of his Megazeux pieces!

Have you created any games outside of ZZT?

No, though I dabbled in Megazeux, I never released anything other than the games listed above. I do still have some half-finished games sitting about.

Do you have any artistic pursuits other than making games?

I make music and write a blog. Neither of these have adequate time devoted to them! I am interested in making some sort of avant-garde pop music. Or just plain old pop!

What are you up to, lately (in life, generally)?

This semester I'm finishing off my Bachelor of Arts, majoring in critical theory and cultural studies. Lots of European philosophy. What this actually means it that I have been procrastinating a lot! And studying German, also. I've been noodling about with drum machines otherwise. Oh, and attempting to bring down capitalism, as one does.

Has your experience with ZZT or the ZZT scene made any sort of lasting impact on your life?

The period that I was making games and playing others' - in my very early teens - strikes me as an age of innocence. I produced those games and interacted with the other ZZTers on IRC in such an un-selfconscious manner, as did we all. It's a lovely thought: a bunch of nerds (or do I speak only for myself?) creating worlds for one another to play in.

What works of non-ZZT art have inspired you the most?

Right now, I'm very taken with Spinoza. Nietzsche and Kafka have been my two great loves over the last few years, otherwise. I would struggle to give even a summary of what inspires me in music, but for the last year one of my idols has been the producer Stuart Price, aka The Thin White Duke, Jacques Lu Cont, etc. He's the guy that produced Madonna's last album. Super-emotional, epic pop/dance music.

Do you have any interesting stories to relate about ZZT or the ZZT scene?

Only that I've been most curious as to what happened to this curious subcultural group.

Do you plan to create any games in the future, with or without ZZT?

Not games: I find that they suck my time too much and turn me into a zombie (see procrastination, above), so I wouldn't want to lure anyone else into their clutches. The possibility of challenging computer games - games that make people look outside of the computer - is one that I am not so sure about. Though I may easily be proved wrong.

Anything else you'd like to add?

This interview project is a great idea. I almost totally forgot that I had given one at all - my voice as a twelve year-old is a strange thing to read with the objectivity of time.

- June 2006