I got the chance to speak with via e-mail, Matt Fishbach an Associate Designer at Broderbund Software back in January of 1997. In addition to these questions, he let me know that all the characters from the cartoon are copyright Broderbund as well (some of you may have noticed the slight disclaimer change) and that the Chief from the PBS series will be starring in some software games. I thank him again for taking the time to speak with me!
A note: Seeing this interview is a tad dusty, any info in bold is updated information I have received since January 1997.
And now, on with the questions:
1. How did the concept of the Carmen games come about?
It's actually something of a mystery. The first Carmen computer game came out in 1985. Apparently 2 or 3 of the designers at Broderbund were kicking around an idea for a geography product while throwing a plastic globe around, something like that. Also, someone came from San Diego, CA, so they wanted to work that in somehow. Nobody knew what a hit they'd, well, hit upon.
2. About how long does it take to make a game?
Development times for educational games nowadays range from 12 to 24 month, with average around 18. That's from first conception to packaged good on a shelf.
3. Are there going to be updated versions of Where in Time or America's Past?
Quite likely. Look for an announcement at the upcoming "Toy Fair" event in NYC (in March, I believe).
Broderbund did put out a new version of "Where in Time" in 1999. The Learning Company, since buying Broderbund, has released "Time" as "Carmen Sandiego's Great Chase Through Time." Same game, different title.
4. A question I've been asked a couple of times is how does one go about ordering a game? (I usually tell them to visit your on-line site.)
Broderbund's On-Line site is a great way to order Broderbund product:
One can also call directly at (415) 382-4700.
5. Another question I have been asked is if there was (or will be) a spanish version of the game?
There are French, German, and U.K. English version of Carmen Junior and Carmen World 2.0 currently available at retailers throughout Europe. I believe there are also Spanish versions of World 2.0 and Junior available in Central and South America. However, I don't think any of these alternate language versions are available locally. A nice excuse for a trip to a foreign country! Broderbund does have a U.K office (I don't have their number), but does not have a Central/South America office.
6. What influence does Broderbund have in the two Carmen shows? I read that there was a creative consultant for the cartoon, but not for the PBS show.
Broderbund approved all scripts for the FOX television Carmen cartoon. The WGBH Carmen television control has more creative freedom.
7. Might I ask how you like two Carmen shows?
The more Carmen shows out there, the better, in my opinion!
8. About how many games have been sold since the first game came out?
I don't have exact figures for you. Across all the Carmen games produced to date (at least 7), sales have numbered in the many many hundreds of thousands. You've have to check with other sources for more detailed numbers.
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