Here is the new series of video articles started by the ultra-knowledgeable folks at Hardcore Gaming 101. The first two are up, the beginning of series on Pre-Super Mario platform games and on the early history of JRPGs. Related is the video adjunct to the Game Club 199X Podcast, with over 50 videos. (Previously.)
In the long history of pinball machines, a new golden age of pinball was started with the introduction of player-controlled electronic flippers, first seen in 1947 in D. Gottlieb & Co's Humpty Dumpty. Unfortunately, this was five years after the start of the War on Pinball, ushered in by New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and others who saw pinball machines simply as another form of coin-machine gambling (PDF) and source of moral decline. Following New York, pinball bans spread throughout the United States (PDF) and Canada, with fears escalating to the point that some in criminal law looked to alternative solutions to the Pinball Problem (PDF). Even though a bold "Babe Ruth" move by Roger Sharpe in New York City in May of 1976 overturned the local ban and other cities again followed suit, some local pinball bans have only recently recently been lifted, after people discovered such laws were still in place. See also: Pinball: From Illegal Gambling Game to American Obsession (VICE short documentary).
"Every one of these sites is worthy of visiting." Sophia Dembling highlights U.S. women's museums and sites for The Toast. Related: Women in Game Developement, a recently opened exhibit at the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment in Oakland, California. This exhibit features the work of early developers like Roberta Williams, Carol Shaw, Amy Henning, and more — see MADE's webpage for full list and game screenshots.
Reaching for inspiration, Haskel based his first program on the prevailing trend in the video game market: sporty, ping-pong type games popularized by the [Magnavox] Odyssey and Atari's Pong arcade machine. The games made a big impact on Haskel, who vividly recalls the first time he saw the Odyssey in action during a visit to a department store. "I was going to see the furniture department, and there was a little kid playing Odyssey," recalls Haskel. "I sat down and played with him for probably an hour. It was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. I couldn't get that out of my mind."—The Untold Story of the Invention of the Game Cartridge by Benj Edwards of Vintage Computing and Gaming, who started researching the subject after interviewing one of the people involved, Jerry Lawson, in 2009.
A decade after Halo 2 (and a day before the MCC), enjoy this loose timeline of essential Halo fandom: Halo.Bungie.Org / Halo at Macworld '99 / Red vs. Blue / The Halo Trilogy in 5 minutes / The Cortana Letters / HBO's cutscene library and dialog databank / Main Menus / Kitty Cat / Warthog Jump (and BOLL's Warthog Launch game) / How Not To Be Seen / Fan Art / Panoramas / The Music of Marty O'Donnell (prev.) / Video Games Live: Halo / Analysis by Stephen Loftus / Who was Brian Morden? / I Love Bees and the ARG radio drama / Halo 2 Trailer / Halo 2 E3 '04 Demo / Full Halo 2 making-of documentary / Voice acting / Conversations from the Universe / The Beastiarum / Surround Sound Test! / Geography of New Mombasa / This Spartan Life / The Solid Gold Elite Dancers / Creepy Guy at Work / Gameplay May Change / Master Chief Sucks at Halo / Another Day at the Beach / '06 Bungie Studios Tour / Halo 3 Trailer / Starry Night / Believe / HALOID / No Scope Was Involved / 100 Ways to Die / "Bungie Favorites" gallery / Mister Chief / OONSK / OneOneSe7en / 2553 Civilian 'Hog Review / Griffball / ForgeHub / 405th Cosplay / Neill Blomkamp's Landfall / Weta's Real-life Warthog / Halo Legends anime anthology / List of Halo novels / Halopedia / Halo 3 Terminal Archive / DDR Dance / Animatronic Elite project / HBO's "Guilt-O-Lantern" contest / Keep It Clean / We Are ODST / Sadie's Story / Halocraft / "A Fistful of Arrows" fan comic / RvB Animated (and CGI) / Project Contingency / Halo Zero / Halo 2600 (prev.) / Reach Datapad Transcripts / The last Halo 2 player on Xbox LIVE / Bungie's Final Halo Stats Infographic / Key & Peele: Obama on Halo 4 / Top 10 Halo Easter Eggs / Behind the scenes of Halo 2 Anniversary
When you finally get a ship over to North America, you’ll notice that things look a little different. Europe is crammed cheek to jowl with minor duchies and single-province powers, at least in the early game. There is no square inch of territory unaccounted for. But when you get to the Americas, you’ll see a lot of “empty” territory. The provinces and territories that are not claimed by any power or nation can be colonized.April Daniels was thoroughly enjoying the ruthless imperialistic stylings of Europa Universalis IV, until the game took her out of Europe and into a somewhat problematic implementation of colonialism.
Five Genre-Defining Video Games Forgotten by History (SLYT, 53min.)
Got a few hours to kill and want to spend a little time in gaming history? Don't have anything else to do until 2013? Check out Anacreon: Reconstruction 4021 (wiki) (previously), one of the earliest 4X games ever made, dating to 1987-88. The original version was DOS-based, but the creator, George Moromisato, released a Windows version in 2004 which has significant updates. [more inside]
Stephen Totilo of Kotaku tries to determine the correct chronology for all the games in the Super Mario canon.
On a snowy Valentine's Day weekend in Michigan Sid Meier creates a game in 48 hours called Escape from Zombie Hotel! He's there to judge a 48 hour game design contest at his alma mater, University of Michigan but decides to also work on a game alongside the student teams. He also talks about his career, focusing on his early days. This is the third installment of motherboard.tv's Oral History of Gaming series. The first profiles Ralph Baer, the inventor of the first home gaming console, and the second is about Eric Zimmerman, designer of Sissyfight. Sadly, the awesome-looking Escape from Zombie Hotel has note been released, but the oher games designed during the contest are available here. [via Rock Paper Shotgun]
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved" .... and mad enough to play fantasy baseball. In the new book Kerouac at Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats, a NY Public Library archivist considers documents revealing the author's detailed obsession with the imaginary exploits of players like Pictorial Review Jackson and teams like the "Pontiacs, Nashes, and cellar-dwelling LaSalles" in his finely grained, fictional Summer League.
Most gamers have never heard of Braunstein. Sad but true. In the hierarchy of self-awareness you’ll find the circle of gamers who know what D&D is (a very, very large circle), then inside of that is the circle of gamers who know what Greyhawk is (large but smaller), and inside that the circle who knows what Blackmoor is (smaller still). And then in the very center, vanishingly small, are the people who’ve heard of Braunstein. Which is a pity, because Braunstein is the granddaddy of them all.Braunstein: the Roots of Roleplaying Games by Ben Robbins. The first role-playing game was run by soldier David Wesely in 1967, his group including none other than D&D co-creator Dave Arneson. This past GenCon Braunstein was revived! Here's what the players had to say. Handouts from an earlier Braunstein revival. David Wesely's post-game comments. [via Rob McDougall] [more inside]
A Brief History of Game: A nine-part review of the major highlights in rpg history. Other interesting if generally unrelated pieces on the history of gaming, pen & paper or otherwise: "Where Have All the Demons Gone?", discussing the history of Magic the Gathering; A somewhat flippant piece by GameSpy; and some obligatory RPG theory regarding the historical popularity of various styles of RPG.
If you're a fan of Interactive Fiction then you'll certainly be familiar with Andrew Plotkin the author of some of the best works in the genre, including Spider in Web and So Far. Only Macintosh users, however, will remember his phenomenol early-90s puzzle game, System's Twilight, "An Abstract Fairytale." I recently played it again, and am astounded that such an early piece of work contains such a fully realized fantasy world (literally, it's abstract) and such goddamn hard puzzles. Download it and experience some gaming history, and a damn good time.
All you ever wanted to know about Pong, but were afraid to ask. Okay, I had no idea - none - that Pong has such a long, involved history. I'd always seen it encapsulated as a two- or three- generation buildup to the Atari 2600 home machine. David Winter has exhaustively researched the life & times of Pong (Internationally) for those interested.
Every once in a while I get a bad case of 8-bit nostalgia, and I remember fondly my many hours of joy with my Nintendo Entertainment System. One of the most fun games on the NES had to be Tetris, and this history of the game is a neat read. TSR's NES Archive is another cool site dealing with the NES. Of course, the original Legend of Zelda is the best game of all time, but that's another thread entirely.