Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge: We Asked a Simpsons Writer About the Fan-Made Game

The Simpsons Fan Game
The Simpsons Fan Game

Anyone who grew up gaming will fondly remember the many fictional video games we saw in television and movies. Some looked so good they deserved to be real games (Buzz Lightyear’s adventure in Toy Story 2 springs to mind), but others were played for laughs, which was almost always the case for the many outrageous fictional games that appeared on The Simpsons.

One game that stood out for its hilarious lack of appeal was Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge – a torturously slow golf game that Bart was dismayed to receive for Christmas in one famous episode. Despite the episode being almost 25 years old, fans haven’t stopped laughing at and quoting this famous scene, but one fan decided to take things a step further.

“This was my first attempt at making a game so it was quite a learning process,” says Aaron Demeter, creator of the playable browser game, Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge.

“It was also something some friends and I had been joking about making for a while! I had only expected some friends to see it, but it ended up getting way more traction.”

“It was unbelievably thrilling that he made the game.”Bill Oakley

The stunningly accurate recreation of the fictional game quickly gained attention online, even garnering recognition from The Simpsons writer and show-runner Bill Oakley. We reached out to Bill to get his thoughts on the game, and he was more than happy to expand on his love for fan-made content and the Simpsons fan community.

“It was unbelievably thrilling that he made the game,” says Oakley. “I loved that he executed it so faithfully. There isn’t really very much content to the game in the original episode. The way it was executed and all the tiny little touches he added like the pixelation, the fonts, and the music really brought it to life. It simulated actually playing the game, which I think is a rare treat.”

“It was based on a real Sega Genesis game and Lee Trevino was an actual golfer,” says Oakley, on the origins of the original joke. “We asked him if he wanted to do it and he said no because it was kind of insulting! So we changed it to Carvallo, because that was the last name of one of my neighbours when I was a little kid.”

It’s clear that Oakley and other Simpsons luminaries are thrilled with the ongoing fan culture that exists around the show they worked on. In recent years, an obscure Simpsons gag involving Steamed Hams (that’s an Albany expression for hamburgers) took on a life of its own with memes, music videos, short films, and even video game parodies.

“All of a sudden out of the blue in like 2015 or 2016, ‘Steamed Hams’ suddenly started to become a thing,” explains Oakley, who co-wrote the original scene. “It started when people were calling up a grocery store in Australia and asking for Steamed Hams and after that, it never stopped!”

“It’s extremely flattering because I wrote a scene that I really liked and I never knew if anyone else liked it that much. Then all of a sudden, 20 years later to find out that it’s the meme of the year 2018… it was delightful.”

While we most want to see Lee Carvallo make an appearance in a sequel to The Simpsons Hit & Run, we can’t help but imagine all the amazing Simpsons-inspired video games that could come next.

“I want to see that game that Martin Prince is playing in the arcade based on the movie My Dinner with Andre,” jokes Oakley. “I also like Larry the Looter.”