Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Nolan Bushnell, who is displayed on card number 165, from the Superstars of 2011 Collection.  Nolan can also be seen on card number 821 and 1333.  Nolan is the founder of Atari and Check E’ Cheese as well as over 20 other companies in his career.  Nolan is a pioneer in the industry and has been influential to millions of people across the globe.   He was named one of Newsweek’s “50 Men Who Changed America”.   To this day Nolan is still working on new designs for the industry.  On August 9th, 2010 Nolan Bushnell was inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame in Ottumwa, IA.  You can see Nolan in dozens, if not more, documentaries about gaming or video game related material.   Some of those include Atari: Game Over and Video Games – The Movie.

Do you remember when you created your first video game or arcade and what do you remember about the experience?

My first electronic game development was modifying electromechanical games so they could operate in an amusement park setting where players could win tickets.  The other game I designed strictly in software on a large mainframe that had a video display was the game of Fox and Geese.  It was sometime in the winter of 1967 at the University of Utah.

What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games?  How do you compare them to older, classic games?

I believe the games are graphically fantastic and there are so many that making any judgment has to be on individual games.  There are excellent games out there but there is quite a bit of junk as well.  I’m particularly looking forward to augmented reality.

Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a Video game Trading card?

No, we only knew of athlete trading cards, and I knew I’d never make one of those.

When did you first meet Walter day and where was it at?

I met Walter at a game convention, possibly at the Smithsonian, I’m not sure.  I loved his passion for the history of games.

When you created the company Chuck E Cheese, did you ever expect it to still be successful today?

Absolutely.  I knew that CEC had the right economics and the right dynamics and would never get old because there are new kids every year.

If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?

Passionate, because he is.

Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?

Still doing some designs, some of which will be announced shortly, and working on another big project with my sons.

What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?

My iPad and my cellphone are what I use frequently.  They are easily accessible and have great graphics. We also have an Xbox One and a PS4.  I play on all of them.

Do you prefer PC or Console gaming and why?

PC is better for certain types of games where the mouse and keyboard give more functionality and certain games are better on a touchscreen.  The games available for consoles are particularly interesting, such as Just Dance, which is great for a group.

What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?

I still like games with a puzzle aspect.  Twitch games today are not as fun because my kids can easily beat me.  Reaction times diminish with age.

Out of all the games and systems you help create throughout the years, what would be your favorite and why?

I still have a special place in my heart for Pong, Breakout, Asteroids, Centipede and Tempest, all in their coin op form.  I was involved in the design and fine tuning of them and they all subscribe to my “Simple to learn, impossible to master” credo.

What does it take to be a Video Game creator, and what advice would you give a person today who would like to get into the industry?

Learn Unity and go for it.

Are video games today aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?


Do you believe some Video Games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?

Atari had a rule that games could allow shooting at ships, tanks, etc., but not at people.  It sounds so quaint today, but I do believe that gratuitous, anti-social, violent portrayals are not beneficial.

Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?

Yes, I particularly liked “Wreck-it Ralph”.

Who is your favorite video game character of all time and what makes that character special?

Mario…..he’s just so cool, how can you not like him.

Where do you see Video gaming in the next 20 years?

I think augmented reality will take over a large part of the board game market and expand the group game around a table market.  I think geopositioning cellphone games will become more common.

This is one of an ongoing series of articles based on the Walter Day Collection of e-sports/video gaming trading cards – check out more information at thewalterdaycollection.com.


Todd Friedman Todd Friedman (390 Posts)

Todd Friedman is heavily involved in the retro gaming community and has co-promoted the Video Game Summit in Chicago, IL for the past 16 years. He also has published 2 books and written for various different gaming magazines including Old School Gamer.