August 14, 2007
I’m just now getting a chance to write briefly about the July 28-29 Classic Gaming Expo, where I met up with Ian Bogost, among others, to work further on our book Video Computer System: The Atari 2600 Platform. Ian has a nice writeup at Gamasutra, more thoughtful than I will manage to offer here.
More than the frenzy of cartridge-swapping, I enjoyed writing and catching up with various interactive fiction folks, including the author of Fallacy of Dawn, the developer of the incredible Atari 2600 title Lord of the Rings, and the filmmaker behind Get Lamp.
There were some good anecdotes swapped, too. I liked Pong engineer Al Alcorn’s presentation the best; he put the birth of Atari in the context of the late 1960s, student protests, and the Vietnam War. Another gem was the talk by Jay Smith about the development of the groundbreaking Microvision and Vectrix systems. And other classic programmers regaled the crowd with technical details as well as amusing stories.
So, it’s true that CGE didn’t have the depth and breadth of discussion of a good academic conference, and there wasn’t much in the way of public outreach, and it was held in a city that would have made it hard for Harrison Bergeron to form a coherent thought. Still, you can’t be too choosy when it comes to classic game get-togethers. CGE was good a place to learn further about classic games, to see the artifacts of classic gaming, and to hear from some of those who were involved in creating those games. And you got to play games, too! If the event can turn into something better and more open, that will be great, too, but there were quite a few good things about this one.