Friday, January 10, 2014

The Video Game Craze

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

"Games such as 'Pac-Man' and 'Space Invaders' were going into virtually every location in the country, with the exception of maybe funeral parlors, and even a few funeral parlors had video games in the basements.  Absolutely true.  I believe churches and synagogues were about the only types of locations to escape video games." Eddie Adlum in The Ultimate History of Video Games "The Golden Age: 1979-1980"

Do you have fond memories of slipping to the convenience store for a quick video game over your lunch hour?  Did you get caught up in the maze-like game where a cute little creature gobbled up dots while avoiding 'ghosts'? If so, you were part of the "Golden Age" of electronic games that started in 1979-1980.  The game that started it all was Pac-Man.

Developed by Toru Iwatani, a Japanese programmer at Namco, the simple game gave us "the first digital superstar" with the Pac-Man arcade game.  Iwatani set out to design a game that was essentially nonviolent and that would appeal to women. He was successful and electronic games became a part of our culture.  

Pac-Man Trivia
  • Iwatani got his inspiration for the "dot-craving maze crawler" from a missing slice of pizza.
  • The original name for the game was Puck-Man.
  • Between the Japanese and American versions of the game there were 23 distinct names for the 'ghosts'.

A selection of arcade video games will be available to play in HCHM's exhibit, Games People Play.  These games will rotate periodically, so watch facebook for the current games available. 

Starting January 18, 2014, come in and play Pac-Man, Joust, and Kangaroo

Thank you to Keith Neufeld who is loaning a selection of his collection to HCHM for this exhibit.

  • DeMaria, Rusel and Johnny L. Wilson. High Score: the Illustrated History of Electronic Games, McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2004.
  • Herz, J.C. Joystick Nation: How Video Games Ate our Quarters, Won our Hearts, and Rewired our Minds. New York:  Little Brown and Co., 1997.
  • Kent, Steven L., The Ultimate History of Video Games: from Pong to Pokemon and Beyond-the Story Behind the Craze that Touched Our Lives and Changed the World. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001.

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