Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
Zine, Jess Driscoll, 8 pgs, jessdriscoll.com
Jess Driscoll dips a toe into late ’80s and early ’90s video game nostalgia with this short, quarter-size, one-shot zine recollecting the original incarnation of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? An iconic early PC game following the Carmen Sandiego, a criminal mastermind and archetypal femme fatale.
Driscoll writes about memories of playing the game at her local library, find- ing joy in succeeding within the narrow limits of the earliest version, and memorizing the geographical facts and others bits that were involved in progressing through the gameplay. Each page includes a screenshot of familiar frames of pixelated, exotic locations and the characters you had to interrogate to track down the elusive Ms. Sandiego herself.
Zines remembering this early digital era affect me in sentimental ways. Of course, one of the things zines do best is validate shared experiences between writers and readers, where readers can come away feeling seen and understood. Seeing these screenshots and reading Driscoll’s memories of the game stirred many memories for me, and I can see in retrospect how I and so many others born on the cusp between Gen X and millennials were passing unwittingly from one paradigm into another. Playing Carmen Sandiego in my school library was one of my first experiences using a computer. Now, I’m tethered to one almost every waking hour. I think there’s a lot to unpack in the lightning-fast technological evolution we’ve survived, and memories of games like Carmen Sandiego are a great path for doing so, but Driscoll keeps things pretty short and sweet. If you also wax nostalgic over Ms. Sandiego, then this zine is for you. You might just wish it was longer.