When we think of classic games, we might typically think as far back as to those days when Nintendo and Sega were battling for supremacy over the market. Many still look back further to when similar lines were being drawn in the sand between Atari, Coleco, and Intellivision. We might also think about those incredible arcades, packed wall those gorgeous cabinets, buzzing together as orchestra only a player could love. The enormous success of the home systems and arcades in the 1970s and 1980s, however, overshadowed a shrinking game culture that held fast to its roots in personal computing.

This community of amateur and professional programmers, artists, writers, and designers were using computers to create fascinating works of their own with little to no interestin creating a lucrative game. Instead, these hobbyists were creating digital versions of their favorite fantasy and science-fiction worlds on the computer to share with one another. This community building aspect of early game developing seems like a harsh contrast to the legal battles of Atari and others. This comparison is even more stark when we think about how manyof these devel- opers were freely offering their code for others to use to create their own electronic visions.

Despite graphics technology becoming more sophisticated and computers decreasing inprice, some of these games embraced text-based interfaces. Instead of sprites and vectors, some of these games relied on ASCII graphics to represent spaces. One of the first of these was Mike Mayfield’s 1971 text-based Star Trek. Based on the television series that ended its mission in two years prior, this game featured simple star charts. It’s hard to imagine this simple game, which was programmed in the BASIC programming language, was as successful as itwas. This sim- plicity, however, was precisely what to an electronic wall with pulsing and contributed widespread popularity. As a programming language, BASIC was simple yet featured many of the structures found in more robust languages. This accessibility fueled the publication of BASIC “how- many to its numerous programming to” books aimed at a younger audience – that included instructions on how to create one’s own version of the Star Trek game . David Ahl and Mary Cole, for example, published Super Star Trek, a version that was given Star Trek producer Paramount’s permission to use their property’s name. Although simple, its influence would be tremendous, inspiring Doug Neubauer to develop a graphics-oriented version – S tar Raiders – for his employer Atari.– Read the rest of this article by clicking here!

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Kristopher Purzycki Kristopher Purzycki (4 Posts)

Kristopher Purzycki is a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he studies computer games and digital media. His current research focuses on the ways we develop a sense of place within computer games. Although primarily a PC player, he has grown up with consoles since received Video Pinball for Christmas. Since then, he has outlived an Atari 2600, two Sega Genesis, two Playstations, and is currently waiting for his kids' Xbox to quit so he can pony up for a Playstation 4. For them of course.