Our Early Memories of YOU DON’T KNOW JACK

The YOU DON’T KNOW JACK team in San Francisco for a release party.

“I was a part of the original YOU DON’T KNOW JACK design team and after finishing the game, we all flew to San Francisco for the release party. We were quite the rag-tag team and felt a little “Beverly Hillbillies” when Berkeley Systems put us up at the Ritz. I think the highlight of the trip was when Tom Gottlieb played the spoons while we were waiting in line for a boat ride at Fisherman’s Wharf (see photo). I don’t remember why he had the spoons with him but I think he ended up making a few bucks in change. Good times.” – Andy Poland, VP of Audio and Editorial

Tom Gottlieb playing the spoons.

“My first YOU DON’T KNOW JACK experience was buying the Movies, TV, and Sports triple pack around 1999. I instantly fell in love and played it every chance I could. I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of and quickly researched the company that made it. Timing is everything, and I soon discovered that they were hiring artists in Chicago! The requirements for the position was exactly my skillset in animation, 3D graphics, and software (at the time, Macromedia Director, if you can believe it). They flew me in for an interview and it was sincerely the most thrilling time in my life. Everyone was super friendly and welcoming and I just knew I had found my new home. I took photos all day, and this one was from lunch that day with the art team. It’s almost 20 years later and I’m so proud to be Art Directing the latest incarnation of this game for The Jackbox Party Pack 5.” – Dave Innis, Art Director

“My first experience with YOU DON’T KNOW JACK was in March of 1995. It might have been in black and white and running on something called HyperCard, but it was unmistakably JACK. The voice, the timing, the sfx and music were all there. The guy demoing it for us at Berkeley Systems was Harry Gottlieb, founder of (then) Learn Television (later Jellyvision, then Jackbox Games). Back then he looked a lot like Serpico; pretty scruffy and kind of intense (but in a friendly way). After the demo, my boss back then at BSI, Igor Gasowski asked me what a good treatment might be to translate this into a game, design-wise. Should we do video? With a video host? Whether it was insight, laziness or my disdain for those cheesy multimedia CD-ROMs with tiny little video windows at that time, I said no to a video host, absolutely not. I felt the game was mostly there. A better font, some TV-style motion graphics, those would be the icing on an already awesome trivia-show cake. I guess that answer helped to get me assigned to art direct the sucker. I’m super excited to see the game back on its feet with a fresh new look and the same bad-ass attitude.” – Allard Laban, Chief Creative Officer

L to R: Greg Bolsinga, Brian Chard, Andy Poland, Lisa Helfer, Marta Segal. On our way (as Smushes) to a You Don’t Know Jack release party thrown by Berkeley Systems.

“I was a writer for the first YOU DON’T KNOW JACK in 1995. We wrote our silly little questions and our little jokes thinking it was a fun way to spend the summer. When the game was about to be released, Berkeley Systems, our publisher, flew us all out to San Francisco for a big celebration. It was a costume party and we each decided to go dressed as what would later be known as a Smush, which was a TV show we’d make a few years later. (I went as Dances with Wolf Blitzer.) People were playing the game at the party, and it was the first inkling many of us had that this game could do well and we might have made something special. Twenty-three years later I’m glad to say I still don’t know Jack.” – Brian Chard, Writer/Sound Designer

Andy Poland and Michele Lindzy. Michele is dressed as Annette FuniJelloMold. (Andy, always one to buck trends, is dressed not as a Smush, but as Chocky the Chipmunk, a recurring character in our early fake commercials.)

I played YOU DON’T KNOW JACK for the first time on a demo kiosk in a CompUSA. I was twelve and terrible with money, but it was the first time I ever saved up to buy something. That first game taught me so much about humor, timing, and crafting personalized interactivity. Years later, I moved to Chicago to take a job at Jellyvision Lab, directing marketing and education projects, while watching the small Jellyvision Games crew work on ideas for a new YDKJ across the room. The companies split and rebranded and I was eventually lucky enough to move over to Jackbox Games. I seriously can’t describe the pride I take in directing the latest iteration of Jack. It’s a true bucket list moment for me that still hasn’t quite sunk in.” – Ryan DiGiorgi, Game Director & Editor

Ryan DiGiorgi receiving YOU DON’T KNOW JACK Vol. 4 The Ride for his birthday.

“When I was a kid, there were two things that made first stop and think, “Hey, it’s someone’s job to do that. Someone goes to work and makes those jokes.” Those things were Mystery Science Theater 3,000 and YOU DON’T KNOW JACK. I played the hell out of those early You Don’t Know Jack games, especially The Ride, hunched over my keyboard, trying to smash the buzz-in key faster than my sisters or my Mom. I took it to Christmas parties and forced my cousins to play with me. I owned the You Don’t Hear Jack CD of funny commercials from the games, and when I made mix tapes for friends, I would often put some of the shorter commercials in between songs. I was… very cool. 

And it has been my great honor to work on the last several iterations of You Don’t Know Jack, writing questions and jokes, constructing new weird surprises for the game. I just hope people enjoy YOU DON’T KNOW JACK: Full Stream half as much as I enjoyed playing The Ride. Actually, no… more than half. 70%? 80%? I hope people enjoy the new game 99% as much as I enjoyed playing The Ride. And I will accept nothing less.” – Arnie Niekamp, Director/Head Writer and Studio Editorial Director

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