Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 12, 2014

Birth of Gaming

We’re starting a new category here called ‘History’ which will be posts about the history of gaming. We’re going to focus on things of gaming that most people don’t know or forgotten. The first one is about PONG.

A vertical rectangular wooden structure with a visual display unit embedded in the front side.

Everyone knows about PONG. What people don’t want to say is that Nolan Bushnell tried out another game before PONG called Computer Space. Computer Space was Space War (Space War was the game played in the computer labs at the time). Computer Space didn’t sell. The game was too complicated. PONG appealed because it had one rule: “Hit ball for high score.” PONG was placed in Andy Capp’s Tavern where regular people saw and used the thing.

The belief out there is that hardcore gamers are the backbone of the gaming market. To the contrary, hardcore gamers destroy the gaming market. If Nolan Bushnell was the hardcore gamer first, he would have tried to ‘improve’ Computer Space and make it more ‘accessible’. What he did instead was try another game entirely. Thanks to the ‘casuals’, the commercial gaming was born. As we will see, in order for gaming to expand, games must not be made for the ‘hardcore’.

PONG has become so iconic that it is used in commercials decades later.


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