Before the Crash: Early Video Game History

Overview

Following the first appearance of arcade video games in 1971 and home video game systems in 1972, the commercial video game market was exuberant with fast-paced innovation and profit. New games, gaming systems, and technologies flooded into the market until around 1983, when sales of home game systems dropped, thousands of arcades closed, and major video game makers suffered steep losses or left the market altogether. In Before the Crash: Early Video Game History, editor Mark J. P. Wolf assembles essays that ...

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Before the Crash: Early Video Game History

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Overview

Following the first appearance of arcade video games in 1971 and home video game systems in 1972, the commercial video game market was exuberant with fast-paced innovation and profit. New games, gaming systems, and technologies flooded into the market until around 1983, when sales of home game systems dropped, thousands of arcades closed, and major video game makers suffered steep losses or left the market altogether. In Before the Crash: Early Video Game History, editor Mark J. P. Wolf assembles essays that examine the fleeting golden age of video games, an era sometimes overlooked for older games’ lack of availability or their perceived "primitiveness" when compared to contemporary video games.

In twelve chapters, contributors consider much of what was going on during the pre-crash era: arcade games, home game consoles, home computer games, handheld games, and even early online games. The technologies of early video games are investigated, as well as the cultural context of the early period—from aesthetic, economic, industrial, and legal perspectives. Since the video game industry and culture got their start and found their form in this era, these years shaped much of what video games would come to be. This volume of early history, then, not only helps readers to understand the pre-crash era, but also reveals much about the present state of the industry.

Before the Crash will give readers a thorough overview of the early days of video games along with a sense of the optimism, enthusiasm, and excitement of those times. Students and teachers of media studies will enjoy this compelling volume.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814334508
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2012
  • Series: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 841,187
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark J. P. Wolf is a professor in the Communication Department at Concordia University Wisconsin. His books include Abstracting Reality: Art, Communication, and Cognition in the Digital Age; The Medium of the Video Game; Virtual Morality: Morals, Ethics, and New Media; The Video Game Theory Reader; Myst and Riven: The World of the D’ni; The Video Game Explosion: A History from PONG to PlayStation and Beyond; The Video Game Theory Reader 2; and the forthcoming two-volume Encyclopedia of Video Games. He is also founder of the Landmark Video Game book series and the Video Game Studies Scholarly Interest Group within the Society of Cinema and Media Studies.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Ed Rotberg vii

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction Mark J. P. Wolf 1

Video Games Caught Up in History: Accessibility, Teleological Distortion, and Other Methodological Issues Carl Therrien 9

What's Victoria Got To Do with It? Toward an Archaeology of Domestic Video Gaming Erkki Huhtamo 30

Ball-and-Paddle Consoles Leonard Herman 53

Channel F for Forgotten: The Fairchild Video Entertainment System Zach Whalen 60

The Video Game Industry Crash of 1977 Mark J. P. Wolf 81

A Question of Character: Transmediation, Abstraction, and Identification in Early Games Licensed from Movies Jessica Aldred 90

Every Which Way But…: Reading the Atari Catalog Sheila C. Murphy 105

One-Bit Wonders: Video Game Sound before the Crash Karen Collins 119

The Rise and Fall of Cinematronics Tim Skelly 138

Color-Cycled Space Fumes in the Pixel Particle Shockwave: The Technical Aesthetics of Defender and the Williams Arcade Platform, 1980-82 Brett Camper 168

Coin-Drop Capitalism: Economic Lessons from the Video Game Arcade Carly A. Kocurek 189

Early Online Gaming: BBSs and MUDs Staci Tucker 209

Appendix A Video Game History: Getting Things Straight Ralph H. Baer 225

Appendix B The Magnavox Co. v. Activision, Inc.: 1985 WL 9469 (N.D. Cal. 1985) Ross A. Dannenberg 234

Contributors 239

Index 245

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