Since the beginning of videogame history, sports have always played a major role. Higinbotham’s Tennis For Two, Baer’s video table tennis, and Bushnell & Dabney’s Pong are also video versions of tennis or table tennis. But no matter how much you tell yourself that these videogames are sports, it’s a hard sell. However, if you add a special controller that simulates something from an actual sport, the game takes on a new dimension and makes the game much more interactive. Let’s look at several of these peripherals for video sport games.
There have been sports peripher- als for videogames even before the first videogame console was released in 1972. To enhance the console prototype known as the Brown Box, the father of home videogames, Ralph Baer, also developed two sports-related peripherals for his invention. One was a “Golf Putter”, which was a real golf ball mounted on the end of a joystick. This would be placed on the floor, and then tapped with an actual putter that would cause the on-screen “ball” to move into an on-screen “hole”.
The Golf Putter never made it to the production phase, but Baer’s other prototype peripheral did. This was a light rifle that allowed to player to shoot targets on the screen. And isn’t target shooting a sport? And if you turn those targets into animals, you’ll have the sport known as hunting.
Leonard Herman, The Game Scholar, is regarded as one of the earliest and most respected videogame historians. The first edition of his book Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Home Videogames, which was published in 1994, is considered to be the first serious and comprehensive book about the history of videogames. He has written articles for Videogaming & Computer Illustrated, Games Magazine, Electronic Gaming Monthly, the Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, Pocket Games, Classic Gamer Magazine, Edge, Game Informer, Classic Gamer Magazine, Manci Games, Gamespot.com and Video Game Trader, which he also edited. He has also contributed articles to several videogame-related books, including Supercade, The Video Game Explosion and The Encyclopedia of Video Games. Mr. Herman has also written the book ABC To the VCS (A Directory of Software for the Atari 2600), a compendium of game summaries. He has also written and designed user's manuals for the following Atari VCS games: Cracked, Save the Whales, Pick-Up, Rush Hour, Looping, The Entity and Lasercade, as well as the user's guide to Ralph Baer's Pinball! for the Odyssey2. In 1994, he founded Rolenta Press, a publisher of videogame books, whose catalogue included Videogames: In the Beginning, by Ralph H. Baer, the inventor of the videogame console, and Confessions of the Game Doctor by Bill Kunkel, the world's first videogame journalist. Two Rolenta Press books were included in a list of the top ten videogame books of all time by Game Informer magazine in 2008. Mr. Herman has served as an advisor for Videotopia, Classic Gaming Expo and the National Videogame Museum. He has appeared in several episodes of G4's Icons and in the documentary, The King of Arcades. In 2003, Mr. Herman received a Classic Gaming Expo Achievement Award in recognition for his accomplishments in documenting game history