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The Southsider

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When I tell people that I write games for the Atari 2600 in my spare time, the first question they ask is usually an incredulous "Why?". Unfortunately I don't have a good answer for this, and my arguments about it being fun and challenging usually fall on deaf ears. At the end of the conversation, I am often left wishing that I hadn't brought it up. Not that I am ashamed of it you understand, just that it is difficult to convey to the uninitiated what an interesting and rewarding activity it can be. To be honest, I am not even sure myself why I find it so interesting, or what exactly my motivation is?In an attempt to analyse the situation, I see the Atari 2600 community broadly split into three overlapping groups:

  1. The collectors: a group who want to own every game, and in some cases every variation of every game.
  2. The players: a group who enjoy plaing the games, and often prefer them to the moder games.
  3. The creators: a group who enjoy getting under the hood and figuring out every detail of the machine.

I see myself as falling into groups 2 and 3. I don't have any real desire to own all of the Atari 2600 games, particularly as they can mostly be downloaded in any case. I do enjoy playing games, but most of all I like tinkering with the programming side of the machine and creating new games for others to play. As someone recently wrote on the AA forums (I can't remember who) "writing code IS the game", and this is lot like how I feel. From reading through the messages posted on this site, I see a variety of different factors which motivate the creators like myself (in no particular order):

  • Personal pleasure
  • Community participation
  • The Challenge!
  • Name recognition
  • Keeping the platform alive
  • Massochism
  • Commercial gain (not very likely!)
  • Sense of achievement
  • Ego boost

I have probably missed a few, but in general I think all of these factors apply to me to some extent. I don't have a definitive answer, or one that is likely to be understood outside the community, but perhaps that doesn't matter?Chris

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