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From Pong to Pizza Entertainment: Nolan Bushnell and Chuck E. Cheese

Nolan Bushnell was a co-creator of Pong and Atari, and he also sold Atari arcade machines. When he noticed that he sold the arcade machines for $1,500 to $2,000 but the new owners would earn twice that much in the life of the machines, he started thinking of how to make an arcade destination that wouldn't compete with his arcade machine clients. His solution: a pizza parlor, with an arcade for the kids and an pneumatic-powered animatronic coyote mascot to fool the parents it was restaurant with free entertainment. The coyote became a rat named Chuck, and what was code-named Coyote Pizza was briefly renamed Rick Rat's Pizza, but the marketing department thought the name wasn't such a great idea, and instead we got Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theater. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 18, 2013 - 38 comments

For Amusement Only: The life and death of the American arcade.

But the golden age was destined to be a very short one. Walter Day told writer Tristan Donovan, author of the book Replay: The History of Video Games, that the industry was "off the rails by" 1981, opening more arcades and ordering more machines than its players could ever support. By early 1982, cracks were already starting to show in the newly flourishing industry: that $400 a day machine, Time Magazine reported, was often "sucker bait, dangled to obscure the dreary truths that markets are becoming saturated and that dud games... bring in no money at all."
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 16, 2013 - 42 comments

40 years of arcade gaming

Atari, the first successful arcade video game company, would have been 40 years old today. The blog Arcade Heroes takes the opportunity to look back over 40 years of arcade gaming (from Atari and other companies) with flyers and video. Part 1 (1970s & 80s) - Part 2 (1990s to present). (WARNING: huge pages ahead with lots of flash videos.)
posted by JHarris on Jun 28, 2012 - 24 comments

The Game Preservation Crisis

Trash cans, landfills, and incinerators. Erasure, deletion, and obsolescence. These words could describe what has happened to the various building blocks of the video game industry in countries around the world. These building blocks consist of video game source code, the actual computer hardware used to create a particular video game, level layout diagrams, character designs, production documents, marketing material, and more.

These are just some elements of game creation that are gone -- never to be seen again. These elements make up the home console, handheld, PC and arcade games we've played. The only remnant of a particular game may be its name, or its final published version, since the possibility exists that no other physical copy of its creation remains.

As a community of video game developers, publishers, and players, we must begin asking ourselves some difficult but inevitable questions. Some believe there is no point in preserving a video game, arguing that games are short-term entertainment, while others disagree with this statement entirely, believing the industry is in a preservation crisis.

Where Games Go To Sleep: The Game Preservation Crisis [more inside]
posted by timshel on Feb 9, 2011 - 44 comments

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start

Retro video games have come back into the public consciousness. (See previously) [more inside]
posted by reenum on Sep 10, 2010 - 18 comments

Not pictured: line of five other kids

Pictures of toy store video game console kiosks! via
posted by Pope Guilty on Feb 25, 2010 - 11 comments

He'd rather have a buffalo take a diarrhea dump in his ear

(NSFW) The Angry Video Game Nerd (taking a cue from seanbaby's lead) has been producing video reviews of some of the most notoriously awful NES games, from Top Gun to Bible Games. (Can't miss: The Power Glove.) Not content to go after one system, he's upgraded his range to take on other colossal failures like the Atari Jaguar, Superman 64, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (the movie). His newest series of videos, You Know What's Bullshit?, takes on everyday nuances like DVD box sets. He may be vulgar and his vignettes silly, but damn straight he's got a point. Enjoy all his archived videos here, spanning five years of obscenity-laced love/hate for his greatest passions.
posted by Christ, what an asshole on Jun 23, 2009 - 18 comments

The End of a Videogame Era

The video games of the 1983 Sears Wishbook
posted by empath on Dec 21, 2008 - 74 comments

Homesoft's Disk Images of Atari 8-bit Games

Homesoft's Disk Images. 354 disks full of 8-bit Atari games. Click on game titles for screenshots. [more inside]
posted by milquetoast on Sep 23, 2008 - 13 comments

Fun from yesteryear

"So I hit up a garage sale over the weekend and bought a genuine, working-condition Atari 2600, with a huge stack of games nearly mint in their boxes, for a song. I thought I’d scan the box covers and give you all a look back into the fun of yesteryear."
posted by sveskemus on Apr 21, 2008 - 74 comments

You are not yet enlightened, Inky-san.

Retro Sabotage is a collection of recreations of classic video games. Or is it? [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Feb 23, 2008 - 20 comments

At least you won't die of dysentery in this one.

Thule Trail is a cute modern remake of The Oregon Trail.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Sep 25, 2007 - 17 comments

This has destroyed my productivity, now it can destroy yours...

Steem is an Atari ST emulator for Windows and Linux that is very simple and user-friendly. More details on installing are in a helpful beginner's guide, but you're probably most interested in the games, of which there are lots [more inside].
posted by greycap on Apr 1, 2007 - 22 comments

You hear bats. You feel a draft. You smell a Wumpus.

The Dot Eaters. A dauntingly comprehensive history of video games, beginning with proto-PONG and Spacewar!. If it's difficult to navigate through Captain O's prize matrix, use the handy timeline/scape (the dates don't work, so don't try). It's an interesting site, for sure, but if it doesn't pique your interest maybe the links page will, since it's the largest I've ever seen. In just minutes I found the First Church of Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros fanfiction (@), and a great Robotron shrine. Plus, this noise (wav).
posted by BlackLeotardFront on Apr 27, 2006 - 16 comments

Data = Art

distellamap is a series of graphical representations of the code and data in Atari 2600 game cartridges, created using the Processing programming language. The results are rather pretty. Also by the same author: mario soup, a representation of the sprites in Super Mario Brothers. (via artificial.dk)
posted by whir on Dec 23, 2005 - 17 comments

Rick Dangerous

Rick Dangerous remade in Flash.
posted by mr.marx on Nov 7, 2005 - 15 comments

Kaboom!

Play "Kaboom!" (1981) by Activision's Larry Kaplan. [both links feature loud noises] And because you didn't ask, here's a 1984 article about the not-so-legendary 30 secrets of Atari.
posted by Kleptophoria! on Mar 17, 2005 - 21 comments

Atari BackWater Produces First Page Post

The Atari Games That Never Were -- and then some. A community dedicated to rooting out prototype or unreleased titles such as Alligator People,Monstercise and -- hey cool -- a genre-busting color-field. While all this may seem a tad on the esoteric side, the glimpses into the the art is cool, hey?
posted by undule on Dec 1, 2004 - 15 comments

8-bit gaming forever!

8-bit gaming forever! I've been thinking about the old days lately; back to when I was a young lad sitting in front of our families huge 19 inch TV and spending a good 10 hours or more with my trusty Atari 2600 playing Pong, Combat, Pac Man, and whatnot. I'd say I had a good 50 or more games for my 2600, and I played that thing until it just fried to death, begging for mercy as I whipped the joystick to and fro trying to find the chalice in Adventure.

So imagine my surprise when I head over to ThinkGeek and see a swanky little controller with 10 Atari games harcoded into it. Just, um, "Plug and Play". Heh heh... anyhow, they also have an Activision version as well. I love the idea of one of these. I think it'd be great if it could be upgraded to handle more games as well. I wouldn't mind playing some "E.T., the Extraterrestrial" right about now.
posted by crankydoodle on Mar 25, 2003 - 18 comments

Get your Atari 2600 fix on the go!

Get your Atari 2600 fix on the go! With six models, it beats the Game Boy Advance by a mile! Unfortunately, they're handmade and the backlog is fifty units long, so more impatient retro-gamers might want to stick with a Sega Nomad.
posted by tweebiscuit on Jul 9, 2001 - 6 comments

Atari Confidential Design Documents

Atari Confidential Design Documents Now you too can read the hardware specification for Gauntlet. Add a C compiler or assembler and a dash of MAME and you can write your own game.
posted by plinth on Aug 15, 2000 - 1 comment

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