For better or worse, video game designer/programmer Howard Scott Warshaw is perhaps best known for the Atari 2600 game "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982). That game is considered by many to be the worst video game in history and blamed for driving the video game industry crash of 1983. (To be fair, it wasn't entirely Warshaw's fault. He was also the talented developer behind the classic Yars' Revenge and other fine titles.) Above is the Big Story of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Warshaw, now a psychotherapist in Silicon Valley.
And in case you missed it, the film Atari: Game Over is a wonderful documentary about E.T. and the mass burial of unsold copies of the game.
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Seth Bling built a functioning Atari 2600 emulator in Minecraft. Not just the processor, or the box, but the whole thing, complete with cartridges and a television. The white flashing line you see in it is the television's scanning electron beam being emulated. You can watch dirt blocks turn to stone and back: that's the ones and zeroes in the Atari's memory. You can edit the memory, bit by bit, by punching it!
It takes Minecraft about three minutes to draw each frame, but Bling recorded a timelapse of it in action. Click through to the YouTube for a download of the Minecraft world housing the emulator. Here's a technical explanatory video:
Previously: Extremely Mundane Places In Minecraft Read the rest
The Art of Atari is a new hardcover celebrating the wonderful illustrations of the iconic game company's packaging, catalogs, and other artwork that, according to the book's introduction written by Ernest "Ready Player One" Cline, was "specially commissioned to enhance the Atari experience to further entice children and adults to embrace the new era of electronic entertainment." Speaking from personal experience, it totally worked.
The Art of Atari (Amazon)
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In 2010, Ed Fries, a former Microsoft VP of game publishing, programmed an Atari 2600 version of Halo. The game, titled Halo 2600, has now been added to the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Smithsonian magazine interviewed Fries:
I don’t want to get too caught up in "Art" with a capital A in a sense, because then it becomes this whole kind of pointless argument about what is art to begin with. I think what matters is, can we tell human stories in a way that affect people—maybe change how they feel about themselves, or the world or exposes them to something that they haven’t been exposed to before? And in the game business, that simple thing is actually pretty hard. I mean, it’s taken us many years and a lot of technological advance to be able to make realistic characters on a screen that look like people, that don’t look like robots, that move like real people, that when they talk, the way their mouths move or eyes sparkle. You know, that doesn’t make you feel like you’re looking at a puppet—that makes you feel like you’re looking at a real human being. Once you get past that, then you open up the door to tell real stories about real people but in a way that’s different than a movie because the player’s in control. And that’s the promise for video games.
"Demaking Halo, Remaking Art: 'Halo 2600' Developer Discusses the Promise of Video Games
" (Smithsonian) Read the rest
After producing too many copies of its infamously terrible E.T.
game, Atari dumped the unsold inventory in a remote New Mexico landfill
. Thirty years on, the local authorities have greenlighted an excavation to see exactly what's down there.
[John Bear at The Alamogordo Daily News
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AT Games has released the new Atari Flashback 4 console, this time with wireless joysticks. It's loaded with Asteroids, Missile Command, Space Invaders, Jungle Hunt, Centipede and 70 more classics, but not E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
Here's the menu:
Demons to Diamonds,
Fun with Numbers,
Off The Wall,
Return to Haunted House,
Atari Flashback 4 (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!) Read the rest