Pong - Your thoughts on arguably the true originator of our industry

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Bill Loguidice's picture

Hey guys! I'll be working on the Pong chapter while I'm working on the Spacewar! chapter, as their historical lead-ups kind of run in parallel. In any case, Pong needs no introduction, from its first conceptual appearance on Ralph Baer's Brown Box that "inspired" Nolan Bushnell to ask Al Alcorn to create the original arcade game, to the precursor to it all from 1958, William Higginbotham's "Tennis for Two". Of course I'll also be discussing the various home Pong systems and clones and a few ways that the game influenced future games. As always, your thoughts are much appreciated for this truly iconic game.

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Bill Loguidice
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Videogame definition - Elitists and Lawyers need not bother
Matt Barton wrote:

I agree, Steve. I've seen some ridiculous efforts to go against the common sense definition of the word, and even some complicated charts to that effect. I've seen people try to claim paper-based games and strange sorts of card games were "videogames," even though they had nothing to do with computers or displays of any sort. I've also seen people try to lump in things like Simon and Electronic Battleship, Operation, etc., as videogames.

Here is what the guy over at Pong Story defines videogames as, which is in line with his idol, Ralph Baer, who defined it in such a way for legal purposes (by defining it that way, he was able to discount earlier demonstrated videogames than his own, like Higinbotham's Tennis for Two and Spacewar! because of their displays):

"A video game is defined as an apparatus that displays games using RASTER VIDEO equipment: a television set, a monitor, etc. In the 1950s and 1960s, computers were not only exceedingly expensive, but used a technology that could not allow integrating them into a video game system. Only mainframes could allow playing a few games. These games qualified as COMPUTER games, not VIDEO games."

You know what I say? I say it's all BS. I say a videogame is any game played on a device that generates its own display, plain and simple. Of course there are different classifications, but they all fall under the main heading of videogame. And no, Simon is not a videogame, just an electronic game, which is not to be confused with an electric game.



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Rowdy Rob
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Video Games: South Carolina definition

I remember telling a fellow S. Carolinian "Yeah, I enjoy playing video games," and his scowling response was something like "well, you're throwing all that money down the toilet that could have been better served to feed a family, help the poor, or do some good for the environment! You're a captive of greed!"

"Huh??" was my response. Yeah, I knew that videogames might seem frivolous to some, but was I really spending that much cash? Am I not allowed some minor fun? Yeah, I know, even a dollar donated somewhere can do some good, but why was videogaming singled out as a cash devourer????

Then I realized that, at the time, "video games" to the average South Carolinian meant "gambling machines," i.e. video poker machines. On just about every corner was a "casino" that advertised "VIDEO GAMES" on it's billboard. Every gas station too.... "BEER, CIGARETTES, & VIDEO GAMES" in bold letters on their signs. They weren't advertising "Pac Man," I can assure you.

To this day, a large number of South Carolinians equate "video games" with "gambing," even though "video" gambling has been outlawed. (They still have the Lottery, though.)

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Bill Loguidice
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Words
Rowdy Rob wrote:

I remember telling a fellow S. Carolinian "Yeah, I enjoy playing video games," and his scowling response was something like "well, you're throwing all that money down the toilet that could have been better served to feed a family, help the poor, or do some good for the environment! You're a captive of greed!"

"Huh??" was my response. Yeah, I knew that videogames might seem frivolous to some, but was I really spending that much cash? Am I not allowed some minor fun? Yeah, I know, even a dollar donated somewhere can do some good, but why was videogaming singled out as a cash devourer????

Then I realized that, at the time, "video games" to the average South Carolinian meant "gambling machines," i.e. video poker machines. On just about every corner was a "casino" that advertised "VIDEO GAMES" on it's billboard. Every gas station too.... "BEER, CIGARETTES, & VIDEO GAMES" in bold letters on their signs. They weren't advertising "Pac Man," I can assure you.

To this day, a large number of South Carolinians equate "video games" with "gambing," even though "video" gambling has been outlawed. (They still have the Lottery, though.)

Very interesting. I guess regionalism plays into it. The whole "pop" verus "soda" thing. Personally I prefer "videogame", one word as our term, though "video game" is quite common as well. "Video-game" is way out. (By the way, I prefer "bodybuilding" as well over "body building". I think when something defines an industry or activity, it MUST merge into a single word)



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Matt Barton
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I think the problem is that

I think the problem is that we don't have a good enough terminology for all the different kinds of devices out there. For instance, I could argue that Simon fits your definition, because it does "generate its own display" which consists of LEDs or flashing lights or what have you. Plus, what about the various "videogames for the blind," which don't generate video but do output sound? Also, are we going to count Lite Brite because it has a display? Etch-a-sketch?

I think the word "video" is the problem with "videogames," but what else can we use? We've already noticed the problem with raster/vector etc. "Electronic games" doesn't seem to work, neither does "computer" or "console" games, since that distinction is really fuzzy anyway. If you just flat out call them "games," then you really open it up.

Whatever word we come up with, it ought to cover everything from Tennis for Two all the way up to Spore, and exclude stuff like Simon, Electronic Battleship, videopoker machines, etc. What we need is something besides "video" there, but I honestly don't know what. We may just have to come up with a new word and use that instead. I mean, can you imagine trying to talk about Velcro or Post-it Notes without using those words, but insisting that you only use existing words?

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Bill Loguidice
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Terminology
Matt Barton wrote:

I think the word "video" is the problem with "videogames," but what else can we use? We've already noticed the problem with raster/vector etc. "Electronic games" doesn't seem to work, neither does "computer" or "console" games, since that distinction is really fuzzy anyway. If you just flat out call them "games," then you really open it up.

Whatever word we come up with, it ought to cover everything from Tennis for Two all the way up to Spore, and exclude stuff like Simon, Electronic Battleship, videopoker machines, etc. What we need is something besides "video" there, but I honestly don't know what. We may just have to come up with a new word and use that instead. I mean, can you imagine trying to talk about Velcro or Post-it Notes without using those words, but insisting that you only use existing words?

I say we use "videogames", just like we use "record" or "album" for a collection of songs, even though it's no longer on that format. The master term doesn't have to really mean what it means, it just has to represent a clear concept. "Videogame" is clear enough to represent the concept.



Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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steve (not verified)
Vector Displays?

...just so it is clarified, I don't agree with the idea that video games are only raster displays. My favorite vidoe games were all done on vector monitors anyway, and if those are not video games then I don't know what *is* a video game!!

Rowdy Rob
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"Video Games" is it!

Both "Raster" and "Vector" displays are "VIDEO" displays. Games are played on these displays. Therefore, games using these technologies are "video games."

Some "auteur" might want to define his vector-based game as a "vector" game, but it's still a "video game" by my definition.

Most of these "LED" games are history anyways, so it's up to "us" true enthusiasts to preserve the definition for the future. If a flexible display (LCD, LED, raster, vector, or otherwise) is used, it's a "VIDEO game" in my book. If it's a game that uses a few light bulbs ("Simon") or a fixed LED/LCD display, it's an "electronic" game.

If the "electronic" viewing apparatus can be used for more than the game using it (even if said game is using it exclusively for one game), it's a "VIDEO" game. That's the "Rowdy Rob" definition. I'm curious if any of you guys can dispute this, or if you can find an exception to that rule.

I'm all for sticking with the term "video games." It's up to "us" to define it, not some "outsiders."

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Matt Barton
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I agree with Bill,

I agree with Bill, "videogames" seem to cover the gamut. The only exceptions I can think of are games for the blind. If you can't see a damn screen, but can interact via speech or sound effects--you're still playing a "videogame." For instance, imagine playing Zork, though the game talks to you instead of posting text (some type of transcription/reading tool). You could type your inputs, but the computer would say everything that would otherwise be displayed. Now, let's take this to the limit--NO display whatsoever, only audio. Otherwise, the same game. Now, could you look at this and say NO--it's not a videogame because there's no video? I think not. And there's the problem--we need another word, because "video" doesn't cover this type of audio-only game.

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Rowdy Rob
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Never mind here...

.

Anonymous (not verified)
William Higginbotham

I was wondering if you have found anything on William Higginbotham? I need some quotes for a project im doing if you find some let me know please

thanks!

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