Inside this storage locker is the Video Game History Foundation

Frank Cifaldi has a storage locker packed with vintage video game magazines, books, marketing materials, early game drawings and designs, prototypes, and ephemera from birth of the industry to the present. This locker, and his Oakland home, hold the core collection of the nonprofit Video Game History Foundation and Cifaldi's goal is to make it available for the world to enjoy.

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Supply of old-fashioned CRT arcade monitors dries up

The last manufacturer of arcade-sized cathode ray tubes is out of the business, with one supplier having only 30 or so in stock and no chance of ordering more. The manufacturing process is difficult enough that it's unlikely anyone will step into the breach; Venturebeat's Jeff Grubb reports that times will be good for skilled repairers.

“I have a feeling that — y’know how there are those guys doing pinball repair on the side — there will probably be some guy you can send your monitor to and have him rewind the bulb,” says Ware. “I think it’s going to be really expensive.” A CRT tube is very heavy, so shipping costs alone would be costly. “Right now, I don’t know of anyone who does [the winding].”

To fill the void, Day suggests that new companies will emerge to reproduce those old machines using only modern-day technology. An LCD screen connected to a PC running a piece of software that approximates the original experience will be adequate for most people.

CRT emulation is amazing, but still obviously such to me. But I bet using curved OLED panels embedded in thick CRT-style glass would fool my eye in darkness. There's yer Kickstarter. Read the rest

Snakisms: 22 philosophies expounded through the game of Snake

Artist Pippin Barr wrote his PhD video game values and got a Masters in UI metaphors, so it's natural that he's created Snakisms, a collection of 22 variants on the classic video game Snake (best remembered from the era of candy-bar featurephones), each of which is meant to illustrate (or at least make a joke about) philosophies from Stoicism (your snake runs into things, pauses a moment, shakes it off and presses on) to Determinism (your snake drives itself), to Holism (just try it). They're lovely, witty fun! (via Kottke) Read the rest

Landmark ruling shows Canada has one of the world's worst DRM laws

When the Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-11 -- Canada's answer to America's notorious Digital Millennium Copyright Act -- it was in the teeth of fierce opposition from scholars, activists and technologists, who said that making it a crime to modify your own property so you could do something legal (that the manufacturer disapproved of) had been proven to be a terrible idea in practice in the USA, and that Canada should learn from its neighbour's mistake. Read the rest

Nintendo Switch review roundup

The highly-anticipated Nintendo Switch hits stores on Friday. According to today's reviews, it's got a lot of potential, some of which has yet to be realized even days before launch. From DIGG's Review Roundup:

If there's one area where the Switch excels largely (though not entirely), it's as a portable gaming tablet:

Though Nintendo marketing seems intent on describing the Switch as a home console that it just so happens you can take with you, I've found myself using the system as a portable much more often than on the TV... The system goes from its power-sipping "standby" to "actively playing a game right where I left off" in about three seconds, making it incredibly easy to pick up and put down as needed. I've highlighted the quality of the Switch's 6.2-inch, 720p screen for portable gaming in previous pieces, and the quality display still stands out after just over a week with the system. (Ars Technica)

The controllers are dogged by connectivity issues when not connected to the portable console:

The Joy-Con are a nifty idea, though they don’t always work as well as I would’ve hoped. For starters, I simply haven’t found them very comfortable. I find that the buttons are oddly placed and the thumbsticks feel small and overly flippy... I’ve also run into a frustrating issue where the left Joy-Con momentarily loses tracking and stops responding to my inputs... It appears to be an issue with a body part or other object blocking the Joy-Con’s view of the docked console...

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Help is an indie sequel to arcade classic Boot Hill

Help is just a prototype, but it's already nearly perfect: in the American west of 1869, hunt down the bandits who've kidnapped your wife, then return her safely home. The controls are simple (walk around with WASD and point and click with the mouse to shoot) and the aesthetic and gameplay add up to an austere but thoroughly modern echo of Boot Hill. Sadly Windows-only. Read the rest

"Artisanal" Nintendo console cartridge hacker creates impossible alternate history games

Josh Jacobson is a Nintendo cartridge hacker who makes homebrew cartridges for games that were never released for NES/SNES, complete with label art and colored plastic cases that makes them look like they came from an alternate universe where (for example), there was a Nintendo version of Sonic the Hedgehog. Read the rest

The Humble Freedom Bundle: pay $30 or more, benefit charities fighting the #muslimban, get a preview of Wil Wheaton reading WALKAWAY

The Humble Freedom Bundle will take $30 or more and in return give you more than 50 games, ebooks audiobooks and comics, including two never-before-heard audiobook titles from me: a newly mastered edition of the audiobook of my book on copyright, the internet and artistic integrity, Information Doesn't Want to be Free, featuring both Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer reading their introductions; and, the first 18 minutes of the forthcoming audiobook of my novel Walkaway, read by Wil Wheaton (the full book also features many other fine readers, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Amber Benson and Amanda Palmer from the Dresden Dolls). Read the rest

Martian Immigration Nightmare: Kafka meets Musk in a trumpism immigration simulator

Among those caught in the crossfire of last weekend's Muslim ban were lawful immigrants and permanent residents who were in the air when the rules changed; when these people landed, they were told that since they had arrived at the US in violation of the rules, they were being deported, and were banned from entering the USA for the next five years. Read the rest

Civilization ported to 8-bit Commodore 64

Civilization was one of the classic games of the 16-bit age, when computers with speedy processors and hundreds of kilobytes of RAM made it possible to model and memorize complex, culture-bound simulations of human history. Twenty years on, though, it's been ported back to a humble 8-bit system that predated it by years. The genius behind the conversion is Fabian Hertel, and it's not just a mockup: a fully playable demo is available to enjoy. 8-bit Civ runs on Commodore 64 and, while reduced in scope, features cities, units, AI opponents, scientific advances and wonders of the world.

8 Bit Civilizations (working title) has understandably been reduced in scope from the original PC and Amiga versions. For example you can play against a maximum of 3 AI opponents (or 2 if barbarians are enabled), and the world map is not as large. However even in its current state, the game is every bit as fun as the original, and even includes some innovative new features. Such as you may chose the gender of your nation's leader, so if you choose to play the English nation, you be Henry VIII as well as Elizabeth I.

The game board is played from an isometric perspective, a feature which wasn't added in the original line of games until Civilization II (1996).

It clearly doesn't shy much from the game's complexity. Check out the traditionally numbing endgame going on in the screenshot below! Read the rest

Dial-a-Grue: play Zork with nothing but an old phone

The first iteration of Dial-a-Grue, in 2011, was to kit out an old rotary dial phone with an embedded computer and text-to-speech engine so that you could play Zork with nothing but the handset. The new, 2.0 version of the project, is "to port Zork I (via a z-code interpreter) to an embedded platform, and enclose that and an old modem inside a telephone, so that the game can be played from a teletype, TDD, or old computer with an acoustically coupled modem." (via JWZ) Read the rest

Last Word: addictive browser game for word-slingers

Last Word is another instantly enslaving browser game from Bennett Foddy (of QWOP and Sportsfriends fame). Use the arrow keys to move a letter around the screen: if you collide with one of the other letters flying around, they join to form part of a word. All you have to do is make the longest legit word possible, winning points, then start over to rack up the score a la Scrabble. If you join letters that can't be extended to form a dictionary word, it's game over. Read the rest

Namco founder dies

You can thank Japanese game publisher Namco for Pac-Man, Galaga, Pole Position, Splatterhouse, Rolling Thunder, Soul Calibur and Tekken. And you can thank Masaya Nakamura, who died last week, for Namco.

During the decades following World War II, the rooftops of Japanese department stores were home to family friendly rides and carnival-style analogue arcade games. Namco got it start making such amusement machines. In the late 1970s and early 80s, Nakamura’s business took off with arcade hits like Galaxian, Galaga, Pole Position, and Xevious. However, it was Pac-Man that wasn’t only the biggest Namco hit of that era, but also of the most important Japanese video games ever made.

Pac-Man is, according to the Guinness book of World Records, still the most successful coin-op of all time.

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Update: dupe! Read the rest

Masaya Nakamura, "father of Pac-Man," RIP

Masaya Nakamura, the founder of Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company (Namco) who unleashed Pac-Man fever on Japan and the United States, has died at age 91. Under his leadership, Namco built its business on Galaxian (1979) and Pac-Man (1980) and later console games like Ridge Racer (1983) and Tekken (1994). In 2007, the Japanese government honored Nakamura with an "Order of the Rising Sun" decoration. From Ars Technica:

Nakamura originally founded the company as Nakamura Manufacturing, selling coin-operated children's rides to a department store in Yokohama, Japan. He later changed the name of the company to Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company (NAMMCo!) and began producing electromechanical arcade machines like 1976's Namco F-1.

Namco hit the big time when Nakamura shrewdly purchased the struggling Atari Japan from owner Nolan Bushnell for $500,000—far higher than the $80,000 offered by Sega. The deal granted Namco an exclusive license to distribute Atari's games in Japan for ten years and led to the development and release of original games such as Gee Bee and Galaxian.

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A lively history of DRM and gaming

17 minutes of funny and informative notes from the history of DRM from Lazy Game Reviews, starting with Bill Gates's infamous Open Letter to Hobbyists and moving through to the modern era with its activation codes, rootkits and scandals. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

Play "The Founder" a dystopian startup business simulation

I'm playing Francis Tseng's dystopian startup business simulation called "The Founder." It's a bit like The Sims, but the goal is to run a successful startup. The game is played on your browser, no download required.

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How to roll dice in space

The microgravity of space would really put a damper on your dice games. You roll them and they don't land. The 3D Printing Professor has a fun solution. Space Dice (via Adafruit)

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