Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System (Platform Studies)

By Nick Montfort, Ian Bogost

The Atari Video computing device procedure ruled the house online game industry so thoroughly that "Atari" turned the common time period for a online game console. The Atari VCS used to be cheap and provided the pliability of changeable cartridges. approximately one thousand of those have been created, the main major of which proven new ideas, mechanics, or even whole genres. This publication bargains a close and obtainable learn of this influential online game console from either computational and cultural views.

Studies of electronic media have infrequently investigated platforms--the structures underlying computing. This booklet (the first in a sequence of Platform reviews) does so, constructing a severe strategy that examines the connection among systems and artistic expression. Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost talk about the Atari VCS itself and think about intimately six online game cartridges: Combat, Adventure, Pac-Man, Yars' Revenge, Pitfall!, and megastar Wars: The Empire moves Back. They describe the technical constraints and affordances of the approach and tune advancements in programming, gameplay, interface, and aesthetics. Adventure, for instance, used to be the 1st online game to symbolize a digital house greater than the monitor (anticipating the boundless digital areas of such later video games as World of Warcraft and Grand robbery Auto), by way of permitting the participant to stroll off one part into one other area; and Star Wars: The Empire moves Back used to be an early example of interplay among media homes and games. Montfort and Bogost convey that the Atari VCS--often thought of only a unfashionable fetish object--is a vital a part of the background of video games.

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Joysticks and different Controllers The Atari VCS was once the first cartridge-based procedure to come back with a joystick controller. even if joysticks have been already in use in arcades through 1977, the advent of the VCS joystick into the context of the house absolutely did a lot to popularize the controller. The system’s rubber-coated black controller with its one purple button has turn into emblematic of the Atari VCS and of unfashionable gaming, if now not of games regularly. extra ordinarily, the joystick grew to become the traditional controller for domestic video gaming and for computing device gaming. Joysticks are nonetheless very important to trendy console platforms, even though now they're thumb-scale, permit extra designated circulation, and find their position along directional pads, buttons, and triggers at the modern video game controller. wrestle was once according to an arcade online game that used joystick controllers, a online game that influenced one other domestic unit. Coleco brought the committed Telstar wrestle! procedure in 1977, prior to the VCS hit the industry that yr. Like Tank, it lacked something akin to the Biplane and Jet video games that wrestle had. however it used to be definitely a detailed cousin of the cartridge. Telstar wrestle! makes use of the final device AY-3-8700 Tank chip, a follow-up to that company’s AY-3-8500 Pong chip. It has 4 two-way joysticks—two for every player—just like Tank. the main profitable arcade tank video game, the one-player video game Battlezone, extensively utilized a two-joystick keep an eye on scheme. the 2 joysticks managed the rate of the tank’s treads in Battlezone, in spite of the fact that; the 2 joysticks in step with participant in Tank decided rotation and speed. The Atari VCS operating strive against, against this, used four-directional joysticks, one for every participant. Even within the first VCS cartridge, designed because it used to be in addition to the Atari VCS itself, there arose the difficulty of the variation among the controller scheme of the inspirational arcade video game [22] and the to be had VCS controllers. The VCS controllers have been less complicated than these in lots of modern arcade video games. even though it was once attainable to strengthen new controllers, the associated fee and difficulty of doing so precluded it in virtually each case. It additionally wasn’t tenable to provide arcade-style controls of higher sturdiness, better caliber, and better expense for the house industry. For those purposes, VCS ports of arcade video games wouldn't, quite often, have the capacity to use the exact same keep an eye on scheme as their arcade opposite numbers, simply as wrestle couldn't use controllers that have been precisely like these in Tank. in addition to the shortcoming of actual originality in such a lot VCS games—that is, the foundation of many VCS video games in arcade video games or authorized properties—another heavily similar topic runs through the historical past of the Atari VCS, that of the transformative port or version. while an prior online game is the foundation for a VCS video game, it will probably virtually by no means be reproduced at the VCS platform with ideal fidelity. The structures aren't an identical computationally, for something, that is relatively vital. The contexts of domestic play should not an identical, both. the space extends to issues of commercial and to the 2 diversified fiscal contexts.

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