Tacoma History, Dinos, and Game Dev

I’ve been looking up the history of cool Tacoma buildings I want to reference in my game and did some digging into what used to be an old theater in the Lincoln District.

When it was first built, the owner made it so that women (not men, mind you) could have a separate nursery area for caring for their kids and still see the screen. It closed in 1958, became a theater not at all appropriate for kids, then a church. It’s been boarded up for a while, now.

While I usually change the names of buildings/ businesses to dinosaur/prehistoric puns, I think I’ll keep the original name in this instance.

A challenge with drawing from historical references from this game has been to not be too literal in the design process. I’ve taken some liberties with background art design for the purpose of keeping with the game’s overall style. For example, looking at my illlustration and the historical photo of Rex Theatre side by side, it’s easy to see that my version is a little taller and less rounded on the top than the original. Another difference is that while the original theater had 650 seats, I don’t think 650 dinosaurs could fit into the original theater.

At least not 650 adult T-Rexes. The building itself is only 6,000 square feet, and T-rexes could grow up to 40 feet long and 12 feet high, and that’s not accounting for width…

So rest assured, my overthinking friends who also get caught up in historical details, I am overthinking this, too, and we’re just going to let some things slide. And the other details I can’t let slide will be dealt with in the game as awkwardly as possible. Like what happens when you try to jam as many dinosaurs as you can into a theater.

I’m grateful to the Tacoma Arts Commission for supporting this part of the game research process through the Tacoma Artist Initiative Program (TAIP). You can learn about other TAIP projects by clicking here.

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