Today I'd like to take a moment to pay my respects to Alfred Gamble. Today would have been Alf's 91st Birthday. While some of you may not be familiar with Alf, you all know the character who was named after him—Alf the Mudokon, our favourite fez-donning, wisecracker—and as he hasn't been mentioned in quite a while, I thought it would be a great time to shine the spotlight on him once again.
I cannot do justice to Alf's story, so I'm going to borrow Lorne Lanning and Sherry McKenna's account of it from gamesTM Issue 99
“I don’t know if you ever read about this guy that we named Alf’s Rehab and Tea after,” says Lanning, “but he was basically a 70-year-old guy, out of the UK, who was on the verge of suicide and somehow found our game, and playing our game brought him back the brink, from the edge. Reading this six-page handwritten letter, from this elderly person who had been a war hero, who had lost a wife after a long illness, lost a daughter after another tragic accident, just this heart-wrenching story…”
McKenna adds, “At the end of the mail, we’re all crying, because he said, ‘You’ve literally saved my life. I had gone out to kill myself, I took all the money I had and thought about what to buy with this last money,’ and for some reason he bought Abe’s Oddysee. Who knows why? And the end of the letter was, ‘You saved my life.’ I’m reading this to the group there and we’re all crying hysterically. So to me, the happiest things, the things that meant the most, were every time I got a fan letter that said something to the extent of, ‘If Abe can do it, I can do it.’ Or ‘If Munch is in a wheelchair, is able to achieve this, then you know what? I’m going to achieve it.’ The more that the fans identified with our characters and the more that it really did change their lives, those were the happy stories, and that, to me, still is what matters the most."
Touching story, eh? Sadly, Alf passed away on 8th January, 2006
. He is remembered as being "always kind, cheerful and with impeccable manners". He also had a profile on Oddworld Forums, but unfortunately he never posted.
Although I certainly never met him—and I'm not familiar with anyone who was acquainted with Alf—I've read his story time and time again, and he feels like an old friend rather than a foreign stranger.
It's a shame that Alf is gone, but there's a strange sense of irony in that the Quintology hasn't progressed since he walked into the final sunset, don't ya think?
Happy Birthday Alfred Gamble
May your spirit remain restless