The Prisoner [1980]

(Content warning: torture mention.) In the 1300s, there was a game called Obligations. It was played in the early Latin Christian universities by the friars, the bishops, the Franciscans, the students and teachers and such, and its structure informed much of the underlying phrasing and logic of the century's theology and philosophy. Obligations is a … Continue reading The Prisoner [1980]

Zork [1980]

As far as Popular Game History is concerned, Zork [1980] is the first and last text adventure game ("interactive fiction" sadly never fully filtering out to mass consciousness,) a cute stage-setting for the graphical adventure genre that completely superseded it on technical grounds. This is a perception deeply beholden to a progress narrative and commercial … Continue reading Zork [1980]

Lunar Lander [1979]

Lunar Lander [1979], at first blush, seems an incongruous fit for the arcade. It must be intentional as an attempted marketing strategy for floorspace in the ever-more competitive competitive arcade ecosystem. It's austere, maybe serious, adult, even intellectual. Slow, certainly. Methodical: Twitchy, nick-of-time reactions will get you nowhere here, you need to commit to medium-term … Continue reading Lunar Lander [1979]

Magnavox Odyssey [1971] + Pong [1972]

The most famous Magnavox Odyssey game is Table Tennis. It was the direct inspiration for Pong, and there is an infamous lawsuit decided in Magnavox's favor to that effect, which became famously the first of decades of copyright trolling putting up a hundreds-of-millions tollbooth on the mere concept of video games at home. If we … Continue reading Magnavox Odyssey [1971] + Pong [1972]