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What is it about Atari?


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#1 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 5:16 PM

A story first. Then a question or two. Feel free to skip to the questions.

 

The Story

 

Today, I went to a retro video game store. It's the first time I've visited this one. Upon entering, I realized it was the same old thing that I've seen in other retro video game stores: Wall-to-wall Nintendo, Sega, Playstation, and XBox. I Asked the guy working there if they had any Atari games, and he said "Oh yeah, a lot. We've got a section over there (pointing), and we've got some more in that tub over there (pointing at a plastic bin)." Fine and good, but then he said, "We don't take Atari seriously. We keep them on hand because we're a retro game store, and it looks good to have them, but we probably only sell an Atari game once every six months or so."

 

And by the way, they really didn't have much Atari at all, and it's no wonder they don't sell many. Their prices were so high. The cheapest cart I saw was six bucks. And they had Kaboom for $9, and that cartridge was cracked with a big chunk missing from one side. But I was more concerned with the thing about not taking Atari seriously. All of the sudden I had a flash back to 1988 in the six grade when a Nintendo kid made fun of me for wearing an Atari t-shirt.

 

The Questions

 

1) Why does Atari have such a stigma? The kid in the 6th grade who made fun of me - I get that. It was middle school, and Nintendo was the system of choice back then. But even now, Atari is second tier compared to Nintendo, Sega, etc. It gets no respect.

 

2) Why do we keep coming back to it? For the money I've put into my Atari hobby (Refurbishing, modding, controllers, fleshing out my game collection), I could have bought a $35 RetroN NES console and several NES games. The NES had more advanced games, better graphics (even though the 7800 console was more powerful), and better controllers. So why do we stick to Atari? What is it about Atari that gets us excited?

 



#2 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 5:19 PM

Oh, and a side-note: I called around to a few retro game stores asking if they had Atari 7800 games. The guy at one of the stores asked me what an Atari 7800 game would look like. "Those are the boxy ones, right?"



#3 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 5:28 PM

Because the folks that are into Atari (now) are older and can see and understand the ignorance of a younger Nintendo generation. Whereas that Nintendo generation can't (yet) appreciate history, let alone understand the beginnings of a new art & entertainment form.

It all boils down to that. Like it or not. Believe it or not. It is clearly illustrated in conversation about the systems.

#4 theor OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 5:33 PM

-1: I think Atari feels legacy to most people, it's a brand for a gone age, like IBM or Oldsmobile. You get no respect for wearing those shirts, except by old timers.

 

Then the hardware, as a whole, sucked TBH. Their was the huge and clunky 5200 and its awful controller, the "meh" 7800, the overpriced and "kitchen sink architecture" Jaguar... Nintendo and Sega were the new cool kids on the block and there was nothing that could be done against that. Also Atari never had an avatar like Nintendo and Sega had with Mario and Sonic. Its management was awful and the market saturated with trash games.

 

-2: Personally I don't feel anything special for Atari, but neither do I for Nintendo actually. I'm just in love with the 2600 because it's so unique.


Edited by theor, Sat Jul 7, 2018 5:46 PM.


#5 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 5:40 PM

Because the folks that are into Atari (now) are older and can see and understand the ignorance of a younger Nintendo generation. Whereas that Nintendo generation can't (yet) appreciate history, let alone understand the beginnings of a new art & entertainment form.

It all boils down to that. Like it or not. Believe it or not. It is clearly illustrated in conversation about the systems.

 

So you're saying that we're comfortable using the less advanced Atari because we appreciate its place in history, while the Nintendo generation is just in it for the most fun and eye-pleasing games possible, while ignoring the importance of the systems that created the industry. It's an interesting idea, but it pushes me to think about why I'm in this hobby (for the games or for the principle of it). I wonder if there are people using VCRs instead of DVD players for the same reason. "That DVD generation only cares about video and sound quality, and they're ignoring history! Dang kids!"



#6 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 5:48 PM

-1: To me Atari is legacy, it's a brand for a gone age, like IBM or Oldsmobile. You get no respect for wearing those shirts, except by old timers.

 

Then the hardware, as a whole, sucked TBH. Their was the huge and clunky 5200 and its awful controller, the "meh" 7800, the overpriced and "kitchen sink architecture" Jaguar... Nintendo and Sega were the new cool kids on the block and there was nothing that could be done against that. Also Atari never had an avatar like Nintendo and Sega had with Mario and Sonic. Its management was awful and the market saturated with trash games.

 

-2: Personally I don't feel anything special for Atari, I'm just in love with the 2600 because it's so unique.

 

Yeah, it was the last hanger-on of an old generation of video game system. There seems to be a clear dividing line between the Atari era and the Nintendo era. I have an Atari shirt. I got it a couple days ago, but I haven't worn it in public yet. I wonder what response I'll get.

 

Yeah, the clunky hardware... It's true. I'm not sure I've ever held an Atari controller that I would call comfortable.

 

The 2600 is unique to me in that it was such a huge success for so long, and there are so many games for it. It was all the rage for quite a while. Systems these days don't have such staying power.



#7 pacman000 ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 5:52 PM

There are a few people, mostly horror fans, who still use VHS. I know there are also film fans, who keep & show movies on old projectors.

I've gotten compliments on my Atari shirts before...

"Its management was awful and the market saturated with trash games." Yes to the awful management & the saturated market, no to the trash games.

'but then he said, "We don't take Atari seriously. We keep them on hand because we're a retro game store, and it looks good to have them, but we probably only sell an Atari game once every six months or so."'

You know what? I've never asked anyone who works at a game store their thoughts on Atari, & no one's ever volunteered. I have pointed out mislabeled cartridges; Intellivision & Atari games are obviously different. Hmmm... Maybe I'll have to ask next time I go to buy games.

#8 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 5:59 PM

There are a few people, mostly horror fans, who still use VHS. I know there are also film fans, who keep & show movies on old projectors.

I've gotten compliments on my Atari shirts before...

"Its management was awful and the market saturated with trash games." Yes to the awful management & the saturated market, no to the trash games.

'but then he said, "We don't take Atari seriously. We keep them on hand because we're a retro game store, and it looks good to have them, but we probably only sell an Atari game once every six months or so."'

You know what? I've never asked anyone who works at a game store their thoughts on Atari, & no one's ever volunteered. I have pointed out mislabeled cartridges; Intellivision & Atari games are obviously different. Hmmm... Maybe I'll have to ask next time I go to buy games.

 

For me, the 2600 games are a mixed bag. Out of 700 games, in my opinion, there are a few stinkers. But that's a matter of opinion. With some games, they did an amazing amount with what little power was given to them, but others... not so much, I think. As for the 7800 games, out of the 25 or so common ones I have, I'm pretty happy with just about all of them.

 

That's another thing about this store: They had all the Atari, Colecovision, and Intellivision carts mixed together, as if they were kind of all thrown in the same trash pile. At least the other stores I've been in have the decency to sort them into different trash piles. :-)



#9 theor OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:01 PM

 

Yeah, it was the last hanger-on of an old generation of video game system. There seems to be a clear dividing line between the Atari era and the Nintendo era. I have an Atari shirt. I got it a couple days ago, but I haven't worn it in public yet. I wonder what response I'll get.

 

Yeah, the clunky hardware... It's true. I'm not sure I've ever held an Atari controller that I would call comfortable.

 

The 2600 is unique to me in that it was such a huge success for so long, and there are so many games for it. It was all the rage for quite a while. Systems these days don't have such staying power.

 

I edited in the meantime because my post sounded unintentionally rude, I didn't mean to say Atari was legacy but that it felt that way to some younger people.

As for the T-shirt, well, I had an Atari wallpaper on my laptop two weeks ago and it got praised by a couple guys in my office, both in their forties. Younger people don't care or don't know what the fuss about Atari is about, they've only known Nintendo and Sony.

It's basically the same for the C64 / ZX Spectrum / CPC 464 generation, they speak fondly of something that younger people haven't known.



#10 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:05 PM

History is but a part of it. I'm in it for the nostalgia a remembrance of warmth and good times. In it for a catalyst of remembering the ambiance of the old days, of my personal experiences, as a kid.

There are some decent games for it, but not nearly as many one would truly honestly believe. There's what, some 12,000 unique ROMs, including hacks and variants and pre-releases and demos for the VCS. And the number of actual-released unique games sold in stores must tally somewhere between 1000 to 2000. Of those I have about 50 personal favs. Less if I up my criteria.

---

As gamers age, they do burnout on some games. They get bored with them. They want more. And if they're the nostalgic type, they're drawn to the history of what they played. They're drawn to the ambience surrounding them. The essence of the art. All the ineffable qualities add-up and can bring new dimensions to a game. Most of which is played out not on physical hardware, not though emulation, but in the head of gamer himself.

Others may go on to becoming developers or marketers or have other involvements with the hobby. There's even room for fast-moving scammers, shysters, and hucksters. Witness that ataribox thread. 441 pages strong as of now. A downhill train that isn't stopping anytime soon.

So in the end each gamer/enthusiast will have their own reasons for enjoying the things they enjoy. There is no written law on paper about what is right and wrong, no specific enforced method dictating how or why or what games are played, what systems are liked, or, anything!

---

I will say my personal experiences with the VCS in 1977-1986'ish were quite fun and enjoyable. The genesis of a new era in entertainment (looking back retrospectively) was unique. It was also a time of when the microprocessor was entering into the consumer world. That which itself warrants literally chapters in a book, and U.S. Beyond the scope of this thread. So I will stop here.

Edited by Keatah, Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:10 PM.


#11 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:09 PM

 

I edited in the meantime because my post sounded unintentionally rude, I didn't mean to say Atari was legacy but that it felt that way to some younger people.

As for the T-shirt, well, I had an Atari wallpaper on my laptop two weeks ago and it got praised by a couple guys in my office, both in their forties. Younger people don't care or don't know what the fuss about Atari is about, they've only known Nintendo and Sony.

It's basically the same for the C64 / ZX Spectrum / CPC 464 generation, they speak fondly of something that younger people haven't known.

 

Hmmm, I feel caught between generations (age 42). All I ever had was Atari, but I was definitely of-age when Nintendo and Sega were rockin' it. I would play Atari at home and Sega at my best friend's house. I get the history of the Atari, but I see the advantages of the other systems. As a middle-aged guy trying to recover my youth, I'm drawn back to what I had, but all of the sudden, I wonder why I'm going back to what I had, when I now have the money to get something that might be more enjoyable. For that matter, I do alright financially, so what's stopping me from buying a PlayStation 4 (or whatever generation they're up to now)? If it was all about graphics and technology, I'd be all over that. But there's still something about the Atari that I can't put my finger on. I guess it's the history thing, or the sentimental thing, but somehow that doesn't seem to be it for me.


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#12 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:17 PM

History is but a part of it. I'm in it for the nostalgia a remembrance of warmth and good times. In it for a catalyst of remembering the ambiance of the old days, of my personal experiences, as a kid.

There are some decent games for it, but not nearly as many one would truly honestly believe. There's what, some 12,000 unique ROMs, including hacks and variants and pre-releases and demos for the VCS. And the number of actual-released unique games sold in stores must tally somewhere between 1000 to 2000. Of those I have about 50 personal favs. Less if I up my criteria.

---

As gamers age, they do burnout on some games. They get bored with them. They want more. And if they're the nostalgic type, they're drawn to the history of what they played. They're drawn to the ambience surrounding them. The essence of the art. All the ineffable qualities add-up and can bring new dimensions to a game. Most of which is played out not on physical hardware, not though emulation, but in the head of gamer himself.

Others may go on to becoming developers or marketers or have other involvements with the hobby. There's even room for fast-moving scammers, shysters, and hucksters. Witness that ataribox thread. 441 pages strong as of now. A downhill train that isn't stopping anytime soon.

So in the end each gamer/enthusiast will have their own reasons for enjoying the things they enjoy. There is no written law on paper about what is right and wrong, no specific enforced method dictating how or why or what games are played, what systems are liked, or, anything!

---

I will say my personal experiences with the VCS in 1977-1986'ish were quite fun and enjoyable. The genesis of a new era in entertainment (looking back retrospectively) was unique. It was also a time of when the microprocessor was entering into the consumer world. That which itself warrants literally chapters in a book, and U.S. Beyond the scope of this thread. So I will stop here.

 

Well-said. Especially what you said about "other involvements with the hobby." I was discussing this with my wife today. The hobby for me is as much fun as the games themselves. The refurbishing and modding (even though Crossbow does it better) is fun. The browsing of forums and ebay listings. Collecting the games. Learning to create new games. I'm enjoying that. Truth is that I rarely find time to sit down and play the games. I told my wife it's like stamp collecting. She collects stamps, but how often does she actually sit and enjoy looking at her stamps? Pretty much never. The fun is in the collecting and the organizing. Maybe that's just me. That being said, maybe I need to dedicate a few hours to playing the games. Try to remember what I enjoyed so much as a kid.



#13 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:23 PM

Witness that ataribox thread. 441 pages strong as of now. A downhill train that isn't stopping anytime soon.

 

And then there's that topic. Wow! People really care! The fury that has erupted over the new thing that Atari is advertising. Makes people mad! "It's fake!" "A fraud!" "A rip-off!" People are so passionate about it! Which leads me to ask even more, why do people care so much about Atari? Because they love the history so much and are super protective of it, and afraid of seeing it get tarnished? As if Atari is a well-respected player in the industry. Like this is going to be the thing that brings down the giant... But I certainly don't want to turn this thread into that conversation. Forget I mentioned it.


Edited by OldAtAtari, Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:24 PM.


#14 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:26 PM

I used to chase after graphics and sound. Thank god! Or praise allah! Take your pick.. that I stopped that sort of behavior. While it did "force" me to acquire many systems of the day, "force" me to experience them as part of the quest to obtain perfection.. It was an exercise in futility. That state of affairs started somewhere between the ColecoVision and the intros of the 286/386/486. And it didn't stop till the GeForce 6800 - 8600 series chips came out. Tech was advancing so rapidly I was spending hundreds of dollars a month, maybe thousands, chasing after it all. Repeat with sound cards. Then BOOM! I stopped cold-turkey.

While I did the same with the Apple II, I was rather limited to software tricks because there were no graphics cards for the II series.

It was a hollow pursuit.

---

There's a sort of mechanical feel to the innards of the VCS. Simple. Not many parts. Everything in the games happens fast. There are hard limits to what can be done with stock hardware. Limits to the depth of a game. Not steampunk in nature, but almost like a tiny difference engine with lots of add-on accessories. Nanotech style. Its CPU has only about 3000 transistors.

Computers that simple can be the sole province of one mind. One programmer. Multi-million dollar franchises not required!

---

I like both Surround and Phoenix. Both are separated by big blocks of time. Well it seemed that way as a kid. And thus each game means something different to me.

Each now-vintage game means something different to me regardless of the system it was on. I don't get into NES much because I was getting into women at the time and into trouble with the cops, and other teen stuff that undisciplined teens do. So I had little time or money for NES. And it means little to me. I'm sure it's a fine console however.

Edited by Keatah, Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:44 PM.


#15 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:35 PM

I used to chase after graphics and sound. Thank god! Or praise allah! Take your pick.. that I stopped that sort of behavior. While it did "force" me to acquire many systems of the day, "force" me to experience them as part of the quest to obtain perfection.. It was an exercise in futility. That state of affairs started somewhere between the ColecoVision and the intros of the 286/386/486. And it didn't stop till the GeForce 6800 - 8600 series chips came out. Tech was advancing so rapidly I was spending hundreds of dollars a month, maybe thousands, chasing after it all. Repeat with sound cards. Then BOOM! I stopped cold-turkey.

While I did the same with the Apple II, I was rather limited to software tricks because there were no graphics cards for the II series.

It was a hollow pursuit.

---

There's a sort of mechanical feel to the innards of the VCS. Simple. Not many parts. Everything in the games happens fast. There are hard limits to what can be done with stock hardware. Limits to the depth of a game. Not steampunk in nature, but almost like a tiny difference engine with lots of add-on accessories. Nanotech style. Its CPU has only about 3000 transistors.

Computers that simple can be the sole province of one mind. One programmer. Multi-million dollar franchises not required!

 

"chase after graphics and sound..." Yeah, that's a thing. For most purposes, it had no beginning and will have no end. Graphics and sound have been evolving since the first black and white television image. And it will continue to evolve indefinitely. At some point, you can stick your flag in the ground and set up camp. We could set up camp in the Pong era, or in the Solaris era, or the Ballblazer era, or the Zelda era, or the Grand Theft Auto era, and on and on. Spend thousands wandering down that path, and that's cool for some, or pick a spot and plant your flag.



#16 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:37 PM

I don't think Atari has a stigma, it's just finished.

I think kids are turned off because it's old, like black and white movies.

Why do people keep coming back to it? Most people don't.

For those of us who grew up with it, the froggy sound, the bricky graphics, the rubbery joysticks all evoke our cihildhood.

I can understand why a retro store wouldn't bother selling Atari. Anyone who's into it already has a collection (and has had one for many many years now). It's a bit arcane for newcomers. If it were my store, I wouldn't want people trying to return inscrutable ancient old games.

The veterans should look away from this last paragraph.

A newcomer is better served by a Flashback collection nowadays. Scrounging or maintaining a CRT and hooking up RF connections is strictly for old-timers.

#17 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:39 PM

Computers that simple can be the sole province of one mind. One programmer. Multi-million dollar franchises not required! 

 

Very grass-roots. Down with big commerce! Even though Atari was big commerce at the time. But still, it comes back to this idea that it's really not about the graphics or the game quality as much as it's about a principle or feeling. Nothing wrong with that. But it's interesting to me.



#18 xucaen OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:49 PM

I think it's because Atari was the first and it is seen as really really old. Compare to Atari, Nintendo is still a teenager. I think that's where this stigma comes from. Video game ageism.

#19 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:49 PM

I don't think Atari has a stigma, it's just finished.

I think kids are turned off because it's old, like black and white movies.

Why do people keep coming back to it? Most people don't.

For those of us who grew up with it, the froggy sound, the bricky graphics, the rubbery joysticks all evoke out cihildhood.

I can understand why a retro store wouldn't bother selling Atari. Anyone who's into it already has a collection (and has had one for many many years now). It's a bit arcane for newcomers. If it were my store, I wouldn't want people trying to return inscrutable ancient old games.

The veterans should look away from this last paragraph.

A newcomer is better served by a Flashback collection nowadays. Scrounging or maintaining a CRT and hooking up RF connections is strictly for old-timers.

 

Good point about the retro store, and about Atari fanatics already owning the collection. Nobody's donating that stuff or trading that stuff in anymore. Not enough to support any part of a retro store's bottom line.

 

And yeah, whether there is a stigma or not, the truth is that Atari, as we know it, is done. Kaput. Like an Edsel or Studebaker. Go to a used car lot and ask if they have any Edsels... Only collectors have those, and if you want one, you have to buy it from another collector.

 

The Flashback is a funny thing. It seems to be made for the middle-age man reliving his childhood, but they've made it easy and compact for those of us who aren't total geeks. I have a couple Flashback items. I should sell those. The old consoles and carts are just more fun, what with all the dirty contacts and such. Isn't that interesting? That's probably part of the answer right there. I find more enjoyment in the crummy old hardware than with the easy plug-n-play variety. Again, if it was just about quality, the Flashback would win hands down, especially if price was a factor (which it will be soon, at the rate I'm going).

 

I wonder if I'd have just as much fun trying to clean the contacts of a Nintendo cart. I bet I would.


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#20 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 6:52 PM

I think it's because Atari was the first and it is seen as really really old. Compare to Atari, Nintendo is still a teenager. I think that's where this stigma comes from. Video game ageism.

 

I wonder... Will Nintendo will rise in terms of nostalgia and history once it's a dead brand? Once those NES games are no longer available in retro game stores, will people see the value of the innovation that Nintendo created? I ask that a little bit rhetorically - I know plenty of people already view NES that way, and they collect Nintendo stuff as fiercely as we collect Atari stuff.



#21 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 7:13 PM

 I wonder... Will Nintendo will rise in terms of nostalgia and history once it's a dead brand?

Erm, when is that scheduled to happen?

#22 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 7:16 PM

Erm, when is that scheduled to happen?

 

Yeah, no time soon. The stores I go to are flooded with the old carts, and Nintendo is still going strong, but then again, so was Atari for a while there. No brand is invincible.



#23 jaybird3rd OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 7:17 PM

The Questions
 
1) Why does Atari have such a stigma? The kid in the 6th grade who made fun of me - I get that. It was middle school, and Nintendo was the system of choice back then. But even now, Atari is second tier compared to Nintendo, Sega, etc. It gets no respect.

In my opinion, one factor that has to be considered if one is to understand this attitude is the Video Game Crash.  The crash and its aftermath was somewhat like the story of the Great Flood: it swept away the entire world of home video games, with the exception of a few stragglers (like Activision and Electronic Arts) who were large enough and diverse enough to stay afloat and weather the storm.  Even the survivors didn't emerge unchanged: the 2600 and Intellivision managed to eke out a minimalist existence into the early 90s, but Atari Corp. and INTV Corp. were entirely different companies from the pre-crash Atari Inc. and Mattel Electronics, and they were too small to make a major impact on the industry.  Even the major publishers like Activision were essentially different companies by that time.
 
But the crash was more than just a change of industry leadership.  It coincided with a major generational change, and was also one of the catalysts for a major cultural change.  While the pre-crash industry was dominated by American companies (Atari, Mattel, Coleco, and to a lesser extent Magnavox), the post-crash industry was dominated by Japanese companies (mainly Nintendo and Sega), and this lead to many changes in game design styles and sensibilities.  (This was a much bigger change than any changes in the technology; the NES and SMS had comparable amounts of RAM and ROM, and pretty much the same CPUs, as the systems that came before them.  The early NES games could just as easily have been done on the Atari 7800, had the 7800 been available in 1984 as originally planned.)
 
The next cohort of game-playing kids—and those that came after them—were brought up entirely in that new milieu, and those are the people who are now writing the magazine articles and making the YouTube videos which are shaping the popular perception of the history of video games.  To the extent that they even acknowledge that video games existed at all before the NES, they tend to view the pre-crash games through post-crash eyes, which only makes those games look even older and weirder by comparison: "Where are all the cute mascots?  Where are the franchises?  Where are the epic storylines?  And what's with these strange controllers?  They don't even have a D-pad like the Nintendo and Sega gamepads; I can't use these!"  Viewed from their context, it's no wonder they have difficulty relating to games from the pre-crash era.

 

I think there's still a lot of enjoyment to be found in those games, and so do many others in my age group (mid-40s or older) who know those games the best, but we're a more reticent group who are very much in the minority in places like YouTube and Twitch.  So, even though we're still buying the Atari and Intellivision Flashbacks and are still buying and fixing up old game hardware on eBay, our more isolationist pursuits aren't nearly as visible, outside of places like AtariAge.



#24 OldAtAtari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 7:45 PM

In my opinion, one factor that has to be considered if one is to understand this attitude is the Video Game Crash.  The crash and its aftermath was somewhat like the story of the Great Flood: it swept away the entire world of home video games, with the exception of a few stragglers (like Activision and Electronic Arts) who were large enough and diverse enough to stay afloat and weather the storm.  Even the survivors didn't emerge unchanged: the 2600 and Intellivision managed to eke out a minimalist existence into the early 90s, but Atari Corp. and INTV Corp. were entirely different companies from the pre-crash Atari Inc. and Mattel Electronics, and they were too small to make a major impact on the industry.  Even the major publishers like Activision were essentially different companies by that time.
 
But the crash was more than just a change of industry leadership.  It coincided with a major generational change, and was also one of the catalysts for a major cultural change.  While the pre-crash industry was dominated by American companies (Atari, Mattel, Coleco, and to a lesser extent Magnavox), the post-crash industry was dominated by Japanese companies (mainly Nintendo and Sega), and this lead to many changes in game design styles and sensibilities.  (This was a much bigger change than any changes in the technology; the NES and SMS had comparable amounts of RAM and ROM, and pretty much the same CPUs, as the systems that came before them.  The early NES games could just as easily have been done on the Atari 7800, had the 7800 been available in 1984 as originally planned.)
 
The next cohort of game-playing kids—and those that came after them—were brought up entirely in that new milieu, and those are the people who are now writing the magazine articles and making the YouTube videos which are shaping the popular perception of the history of video games.  To the extent that they even acknowledge that video games existed at all before the NES, they tend to view the pre-crash games through post-crash eyes, which only makes those games look even older and weirder by comparison: "Where are all the cute mascots?  Where are the franchises?  Where are the epic storylines?  And what's with these strange controllers?  They don't even have a D-pad like the Nintendo and Sega gamepads; I can't use these!"  Viewed from their context, it's no wonder they have difficulty relating to games from the pre-crash era.

 

I think there's still a lot of enjoyment to be found in those games, and so do many others in my age group (mid-40s or older) who know those games the best, but we're a more reticent group who are very much in the minority in places like YouTube and Twitch.  So, even though we're still buying the Atari and Intellivision Flashbacks and are still buying and fixing up old game hardware on eBay, our more isolationist pursuits aren't nearly as visible, outside of places like AtariAge.

 

Wow, what a history lesson. Thank you! That helps. Maybe instead of me looking at this as a pre-Nintendo era versus a post-Nintendo era, I should look at it as pre-crash versus post-crash. The pre-crash system is a completely different beast from its post-crash counterpart. It has different features, different limitations, different aesthetics. Comparing a 2600 to an NES is like comparing Long John Silvers (fast food fish place) to a gourmet-prepared piece of salmon. I love Long John Silvers, and I love a piece of finely cooked fish as well. One isn't bad in comparison to the other. I wouldn't normally even think to compare the two. Both are fish, and even though one is fancier, they seem like two different things entirely, not suitable for comparison. Atari and NES can coexist side-by-side without either being judged as better or worse. Just very different.


Edited by jaybird3rd, Sat Jul 7, 2018 8:01 PM.


#25 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Missile Commander

  • 21,436 posts

Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 8:26 PM

..and this is why I like emulation so much. It enables be to study the old and the new with equal ease and in equal detail. From the pre-KIM1 era through up to PSX2. All with one platform, which even has its own set of modern games and other benefits for when I get overwhelmed with the old stuff.

All that including curation/collection tools, and other goodies.

Edited by Keatah, Sat Jul 7, 2018 8:27 PM.





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