Racing the Beam

Author: Nick Montfort
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262261529
Format: PDF, ePub
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The Atari Video Computer System dominated the home video game market so completely that "Atari" became the generic term for a video game console. The Atari VCS was affordable and offered the flexibility of changeable cartridges. Nearly a thousand of these were created, the most significant of which established new techniques, mechanics, and even entire genres. This book offers a detailed and accessible study of this influential video game console from both computational and cultural perspectives. Studies of digital media have rarely investigated platforms--the systems underlying computing. This book (the first in a series of Platform Studies) does so, developing a critical approach that examines the relationship between platforms and creative expression. Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost discuss the Atari VCS itself and examine in detail six game cartridges: Combat, Adventure, Pac-Man, Yars' Revenge, Pitfall!, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. They describe the technical constraints and affordances of the system and track developments in programming, gameplay, interface, and aesthetics. Adventure, for example, was the first game to represent a virtual space larger than the screen (anticipating the boundless virtual spaces of such later games as World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto), by allowing the player to walk off one side into another space; and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was an early instance of interaction between media properties and video games. Montfort and Bogost show that the Atari VCS--often considered merely a retro fetish object--is an essential part of the history of video games.

I Am Error

Author: Nathan Altice
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262028778
Format: PDF
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The complex material histories of the Nintendo Entertainment System platform, from code to silicon, focusing on its technical constraints and its expressive affordances.

Codename Revolution

Author: Steven E. Jones
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262300532
Format: PDF
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The Nintendo Wii, introduced in 2006, helped usher in a moment of retro-reinvention in video game play. This hugely popular console system, codenamed Revolution during development, signaled a turn away from fully immersive, time-consuming MMORPGs or forty-hour FPS games and back toward family fun in the living room. Players using the wireless motion-sensitive controller (the Wii Remote, or "Wiimote") play with their whole bodies, waving, swinging, swaying. The mimetic interface shifts attention from what's on the screen to what's happening in physical space. This book describes the Wii's impact in technological, social, and cultural terms, examining the Wii as a system of interrelated hardware and software that was consciously designed to promote social play in physical space. Each chapter of Codename Revolution focuses on a major component of the Wii as a platform: the console itself, designed to be low-powered and nimble; the iconic Wii Remote; Wii Fit Plus, and its controller, the Wii Balance Board; the Wii Channels interface and Nintendo's distribution system; and the Wii as a social platform that not only affords multiplayer options but also encourages social interaction in shared physical space. Finally, the authors connect the Wii's revolution in mimetic interface gaming -- which eventually led to the release of Sony's Move and Microsoft's Kinect -- to some of the economic and technological conditions that influence the possibility of making something new in this arena of computing and culture.

The Future Was Here

Author: Jimmy Maher
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262300745
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Long ago, in 1985, personal computers came in two general categories: the friendly, childish game machine used for fun (exemplified by Atari and Commodore products); and the boring, beige adult box used for business (exemplified by products from IBM). The game machines became fascinating technical and artistic platforms that were of limited real-world utility. The IBM products were all utility, with little emphasis on aesthetics and no emphasis on fun. Into this bifurcated computing environment came the Commodore Amiga 1000. This personal computer featured a palette of 4,096 colors, unprecedented animation capabilities, four-channel stereo sound, the capacity to run multiple applications simultaneously, a graphical user interface, and powerful processing potential. It was, Jimmy Maher writes in The Future Was Here, the world's first true multimedia personal computer. Maher argues that the Amiga's capacity to store and display color photographs, manipulate video (giving amateurs access to professional tools), and use recordings of real-world sound were the seeds of the digital media future: digital cameras, Photoshop, MP3 players, and even YouTube, Flickr, and the blogosphere. He examines different facets of the platform -- from Deluxe Paint to AmigaOS to Cinemaware -- in each chapter, creating a portrait of the platform and the communities of practice that surrounded it. Of course, Maher acknowledges, the Amiga was not perfect: the DOS component of the operating systems was clunky and ill-matched, for example, and crashes often accompanied multitasking attempts. And Commodore went bankrupt in 1994. But for a few years, the Amiga's technical qualities were harnessed by engineers, programmers, artists, and others to push back boundaries and transform the culture of computing.

Super Power Spoony Bards and Silverware

Author: Dominic Arsenault
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262341506
Format: PDF, Kindle
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This is a book about the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that is not celebratory or self-congratulatory. Most other accounts declare the Super NES the undisputed victor of the "16-bit console wars" of 1989--1995. In this book, Dominic Arsenault reminds us that although the SNES was a strong platform filled with high-quality games, it was also the product of a short-sighted corporate vision focused on maintaining Nintendo's market share and business model. This led the firm to fall from a dominant position during its golden age (dubbed by Arsenault the "ReNESsance") with the NES to the margins of the industry with the Nintendo 64 and GameCube consoles. Arsenault argues that Nintendo's conservative business strategies and resistance to innovation during the SNES years explain its market defeat by Sony's PlayStation. Extending the notion of "platform" to include the marketing forces that shape and constrain creative work, Arsenault draws not only on game studies and histories but on game magazines, boxes, manuals, and advertisements to identify the technological discourses and business models that formed Nintendo's Super Power. He also describes the cultural changes in video games during the 1990s that slowly eroded the love of gamer enthusiasts for the SNES as the Nintendo generation matured. Finally, he chronicles the many technological changes that occurred through the SNES's lifetime, including full-motion video, CD-ROM storage, and the shift to 3D graphics. Because of the SNES platform's architecture, Arsenault explains, Nintendo resisted these changes and continued to focus on traditional gameplay genres.

10 PRINT CHR 205 5 RND 1 GOTO 10

Author: Nick Montfort
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262304570
Format: PDF, Docs
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This book takes a single line of code -- the extremely concise BASIC program for the Commodore 64 inscribed in the title -- and uses it as a lens through which to consider the phenomenon of creative computing and the way computer programs exist in culture. The authors of this collaboratively written book treat code not as merely functional but as a text -- in the case of 10 PRINT, a text that appeared in many different printed sources -- that yields a story about its making, its purpose, its assumptions, and more. They consider randomness and regularity in computing and art, the maze in culture, the popular BASIC programming language, and the highly influential Commodore 64 computer.

Software Studies

Author: Matthew Fuller
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262062747
Format: PDF, Kindle
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A cultural field guide to software: artists, computer scientists, designers, cultural theorists, programmers, and others define a new field of study and practice.

Now the Chips Are Down

Author: Alison Gazzard
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262034034
Format: PDF, ePub
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The story of a pioneering microcomputer: its beginnings as part of a national Computer Literary Project, its innovative hardware, and its creative uses.

Atari Inc Business Is Fun

Author: Marty Goldberg
Publisher: Syzygy Press
ISBN: 0985597402
Format: PDF, ePub
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Atari Inc. - Business is Fun, the book that goes behind the company that was synonymous with the popularization of 'video games.' Nearly 8 years in the making, Atari Inc. - Business is Fun is comprised of thousands of researched documents, hundreds of interviews, and access to materials never before available. An amazing 800 pages (including nearly 300 pages of rare, never before seen photos, memos and court documents), this book details Atari's genesis from an idea between an engineer and a visionary in 1969 to a nearly $2 billion dollar juggernaut, and ending with a $538 million death spiral during 1984. A testament to the people that worked at this beloved company, the book is full of their personal stories and insights. Learn about topics like: * All the behind the scenes stories surrounding the creation of the company's now iconic games and products. * The amazing story of Atari's very own "Xerox PARC" research facility up in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains * The full recounting of Steve Jobs's time at Atari, with comments from the people he worked with on projects and the detailed story of the creation of Atari Breakout, including input by Steve Wozniak on his development of the prototype, and how it couldn't be used and another Atari engineer would have to make the final production Breakout arcade game instead. * The creation of "Rick Rats Big Cheese Restaurants" which later became "Chuck E. Cheese's" * How Atari Inc. faltered and took down an entire industry with it before being put on the chopping block. If you've ever wanted to learn about the truth behind the creation of this iconic company told directly by the people who made FUN for a living, then this is the book for you!

Twisty Little Passages

Author: Nick Montfort
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262633185
Format: PDF, Kindle
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An introduction to interactive fiction, exploring the form from gaming and literary perspectives.