For our Final Project Lauren Talbert and I decided to cover 80’s video games. It felt right considering my mom was a ms. Pac Man champ in the 80’s and Lauren’s family owns an old arcade game in their house haha. We were instantly drawn to the culture and fun that these games brought so many people. We also covered the Video Game crash of 1983.
- The video game crash of 1983, also known as Atari Shock in Japan, was an industry-wide recession. Revenues for video game makers dropped almost 97% in only two years. The crash almost destroyed the then-growing industry. Too many companies were too optimistic about gaming and tried to jump into the industry too quickly. In some instances, companies that were completely outside of the scope of gaming tried to participate thus causing major issues for the industry.
- Video game companies couldn’t help but create as many game cartridges as possible. They even believed that customers would buy an entire console just to play certain games. In one instance, Atari rushed development on and created 12 million cartridges of Pac-Man when only 10 million people owned an Atari 2600. Ultimately, the game sold 7 million copies and was met with poor reviews, leaving Atari with an extra 5 million copies in stock.
- At the time, programmers were able to easily reverse engineer and create unlicensed games. This led to some dirty competition, with gaming companies stealing programmers from one another with promises for credit and an endless stream of game cartridges flooding the market. Copies of the same game with different names were being released on a consistent basis. Today, that practice would be equivalent to Nintendo creating a playable Xbox game and releasing it without Microsoft’s permission.
- Inflation and the introduction of new coins into the U.S. market also contributed to the crash. Arcades struggled with the loss of value of the American quarter because customers relied on coins to play arcade games. Arcades even lobbied to replace the gargantuan Eisenhower dollar with the Susan B. Anthony dollar which was near the size of the quarter. The new coin, introduced in 1979, was considered a failure because customers complained it looked too much like a quarter.
- At the time, personal computers and video game consoles were nearly the same price. PCs could often process video games better and they had other programming abilities that made them more attractive than video game consoles.
- The video game crash of 1983 eliminated a lot of competition in the industry as bandwagon and copycat companies quickly went under. Even the top companies in the gaming industry could never fully recover. However, out of the ashes rose Nintendo. Nintendo changed the gaming industry forever by implementing a lock-out chip in their consoles. This lock-out chip was meant to exclude any unlicensed companies from making games for their console. Ultimately, their cautious optimism led to their success which can even be felt today. As the industry began to recover and their demographic grew up, they were able to shift their focus and begin to market games not only to children but to adults as well.
Overall, this project was not difficult to do from home during these crazy times. We created a video about the industry and crash, a digital poster about a ‘hypothetical’ game night, and an interactive ‘buzz-feed’ like quiz that will tell you which 80’s video game character you are with a short description. Overall I think we did very well with the materials and team work ability that we had access to virtually.