When I was a youngster, Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair was a huge deal. It was one of the first, and only, games I owned for our huge, bulky Gateway computer, and, most important of all, it featured Steven Spielberg. As a budding young cinephile, Steven Spielberg was like a god to me (which probably explains why I now spend all my free time putting together a podcast about his movies), and the prospect of playing a game where you got to make your own movie with Spielberg’s guidance was too cool to ignore. And to sweeten the deal, Quentin Tarantino was part of the game, too. Now, some kind soul has gone ahead and made the game available to play online. Sort of.
Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair
Released in 1996, the CD-ROM game Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair took players on a virtual backlot where Spielberg and several other industry folks – writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio; cinematographer Dean Cundey; editor Michael Kahn, and so on – would pop-up to guide you through the making of your own movie.
The movie you were making starred Jennifer Aniston, Quentin Tarantino, and Penn & Teller, and while your options were limited, you had the choice to make either a serious drama or a silly comedy using the same cast and basic storyline, which involved Tarantino as a guy in jail about to be sent to the electric chair, and Aniston as his girlfriend trying to clear his name. It wasn’t very sophisticated, but it was a treat for movie fans like myself, although even at a young age I could tell Tarantino’s acting was terrible.
Now, the game is back. Sort of. Paolo Pedercini has uploaded some of the game as a type of choose-your-own-adventure film, similar to the Black Mirror movie Bandersnatch.
Steven Spielberg's Director's Choices
An interactive movie made with bootlegged footage from a terrible '90s CD-ROM.
— Paolo Pedercini (@molleindustria) August 8, 2020
I take issue with calling this a “terrible” game (it really wasn’t that bad!), but beyond that, this is a fun experiment. However, it cuts out the most enjoyable part of the game, at least in my opinion – the moments where Spielberg would wander in off frame and give you tips. You can see some very poor-quality behind-the-scenes footage from the game below.