Video Meets Board Game Experience, Atmosfear, Is Back! Our Interview With Creator Phillip Tanner And The Gatekeeper

We had the opportunity to not only interview The Gatekeeper, the force behind classic game Atmosfear’s re-issue, and also its original creator, Phillip Tanner.

From the Atmosfear Kickstarter page:

This special 30th Anniversary Kickstarter edition of Nightmare/Atmosfear not only pays homage to the origins of this unique video-meets-boardgame experience, it also expands on the original with deluxe game play extras and contains new custom pieces made especially for this campaign.

We are not only re-creating the original game from 30 years ago, we are also refining and improving the original with new playing pieces, extra cards, and incorporating the crazy Baron Samedi expansion. In addition we have commissioned an entirely new and original backstory of The Gatekeeper and his mission on and under the earth called “The Lore of the Other Side.” This will be penned as a graphic novel.

PopHorror: I want to thank you for doing this with me. I’ve been a fan of the game for a long time, and I can’t wait for it’s return! What inspired you to bring Atmosfear back?

Gatekeeper: It’s been 30 years. Also because it’s the original game which is still my personal favorite and remembered by many people. A lot of people played it when they were young and loved it, so now it seems like the right time for them to give to their kids to enjoy. It’s come full circle.

PopHorror: What, if anything, is being done to bring Atmosfear to a modern audience?

Gatekeeper: Atmosfear is an eternal source of fast, frightening, fun—just like The Gatekeeper. However, keep an eye out as we have some surprises up our sleeves just wiggling to get out!

PopHorror: Will there be artistic changes or will you be sticking to the old style?

Gatekeeper: As it’s a re-issue, we are sticking to the original. Those taking up the deluxe version will get some fresh items as well, and it will be a limited edition for those who back it on Kickstarter.

PopHorror: Will the new Atmosfear include any of the expansions from the past?

Gatekeeper: Yes, we are already including Baron Samedi in the Deluxe Edition.

PopHorror: How close to the original, as far as gameplay, will this be?

Gatekeeper: Pretty close, maggot! It’s a re-issue.

PopHorror: Will there be any new content?

Gatekeeper: I like what you are doing here, asking the same question a different way but hoping for a different answer. The Gatekeeper would like you!

PopHorror: Will you be expanding on the lore of the original?

Gatekeeper: The lore is etched in stone from eons past. We are merely the vessel entrusted with revealing it to you mere mortals.

PopHorror: Will Atmosfear be available outside of Kickstarter?

Gatekeeper: It’s possible, but the Deluxe Edition is only available on Kickstarter. But trust that The Gatekeeper is not going away and could resurface at any time and in any guise.

PopHorror: What inspired you to create Atmosfear?

Phillip Tanner: Brett Clements and myself had a production company that made TV and board games. We were discussing the idea of making a horror film when Brett came up with the idea of combining our production skills with our board game skills, and Nightmare/Atmosfear was born. It took a few months to develop it, one meeting to sell it, and one Christmas for it to become a global smash. We had a good time!

PopHorror: What inspired you to take the VHS route with the game?

Phillip Tanner: We needed a platform for the host, The Gatekeeper, to appear, and because this was 30 years ago, VHS was the dominant audio/video platform. This is way before platforms like Netflix. Back then, when movie companies released their films on VHS, almost every house had a VCR, so it made sense.

PopHorror: What drew you to the characters in the game?

Phillip Tanner: Brett chose archetypical horror characters—zombie, witch, poltergeist, werewolf, vampire and mummy—and researched real people from history who claimed they these archetypes and wrote around them. Hellin is the only completely made up character.

PopHorror: With how far technology has advanced, were you surprised to find that there still seems to be a large audience for the game?

Phillip Tanner: I’m thrilled but not completely surprised. This game still has a lot of fans which is wonderful. And also it’s a fine hour of fun and frights.

PopHorror: How was the character of The Gatekeeper developed, and how did you choose the actor to portray him?

Phillip Tanner: He came from Brett’s brain, and he found him easy to write. For some reason, people liked being told off/belittled by this dude. Because it was funny. The actor, Wenanty Nosul, was on some wonderfully odd ads for Guinness, and he happened to be on the books of my former agent, so when I spoke to them about needing an actor, Wenanty was presented, and he was perfect.

PopHorror: How did the two of you get in touch to keep the game alive?

Phillip Tanner: Geoff Watson, Karen Horne, and I had worked together at an animation studio and got on really well. We did the Atmosfear DVD and App version and when I spoke to Geoff about a nostalgia release of the original game, they leapt at it. But rather than a full commercial release, we decided to do something specifically for the fan base and chose Kickstarter.

PopHorror: Is this a collaborative effort?

Phillip Tanner: Very much so, and it’s surprising how much preparation is required to ensure a Kickstarter campaign has even a remote chance of success.

PopHorror: Thank you for your time.

Phillip Tanner: Thanks, on behalf of all the fans, for spreading the word and helping to make this project come to fruition.

Check out the Atmosfear Kickstarter campaign here!

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