Why you’ve probably never heard of IT space
Pong and Computer Space arcade games. (Ubcule / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic) But when Computer Space was unveiled, it didn’t generate a flood of commands, and no flood ever arrived. It wasn’t until the makers of Computer Space left the company, founded Atari, and released Pong the following year that the commercial potential of video games became evident. The company sold 8,000 Pong units in 1974.
Nolan Bushnell, who spearheaded the development of Computer Space and Pong, has repeatedly recounted Computer Space’s unsuccessful beginnings. He claimed that Computer Space failed to take off because he overestimated the audience. Bushnell is widely quoted as saying the game was too complicated for bar regulars and no one would want to read the instructions for playing a video game. The initial design consisted of two ships on a star field background, shooting at each other. It was a technical marvel, but not very rewarding to play until the addition in April of gravity and a big star in the middle of the playing field.
Computer Space was an attempt to market the first popular video game. In February 1962, a group of engineers from MIT created Spacewar !, a free game for those lucky enough to have access to the few bulky and expensive computers of the time. Around the same time that Computer Space debuted, Stanford University students were lining up for hours in the student union to play another version of Spacewar !, The Galaxy Game, which was a success as a single, prepaid facility just down the street from where Bushnell and his associates worked.
Launch Fail As a researcher who studies the design and history of video games, I found that this was not the case.
While researching my most recent book, “How Pac-Man Eats”, I became convinced that this was not the case. That, on the contrary, the common story of the genesis of the commercial gaming industry is false. So, was the difference in success between The Galaxy Game and Computer Space a student affair compared to the average Joe? Was a reproduction of Spacewar !, a captivating game with a perfect theme for the era, really too complex for an audience that filled out tax forms without software and found library books using paper index cards?
Why did The Galaxy Game and Space Wars manage to find an enthusiastic following when Computer Space was not? The answer is that the computer space lacked an essential ingredient that the other two had: gravity. Key proof that complexity wasn’t the issue comes in the form of Space Wars, another version of Spacewar! it was a blockbuster arcade video game released in 1977. Lack of gravity
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