Videogame Design as Art

I was going through some old files this weekend, and I found a journal I kept while designing videogames for Atari in 1982. My journal ends on December 22, 1982. I’ll never read the whole thing, but I scanned the first and last pages, and here’s the final paragraph on the last page:

Though I can’t speak for all of the designers here, I myself approach game design as a very special, almost sacred art. I treat it, in many ways, as any artist would treat his work. The immediacy, plasticity, and interactiveness of the videogame design medium heightens all of these traditional artist feelings beyond what static art can provide.

It’s a little self-important, I have to admit, but I’m blogging this anyway–because even though it all seems so obvious now, back in 1982 no one took interactivity or videogames seriously–they were just toys. (And note that “interactivity” wasn’t even a thing; I called it “interactiveness” because in 1982, there wasn’t a word for it.)

NEON The Videogame

Here’s the podcast interview I did with the show “Game is a 4 letter word”. In Episode 8, I tell how I accidentally ended up designing Atari videogames in the early 1980s. (Jump ahead to the ten minute mark for my segment of the episode.) The company that hired me, General Computer Corporation, is most famous for creating Ms. Pacman. But most people don’t know that GCC created almost all of Atari’s home cartridge adaptations of the most popular arcade games.

It was my first job after college. I was set loose and told to create and design an original arcade game. I kind of took the job for granted at the time…but looking back, WOW! How awesome is that? In the podcast interview, I describe the creative process that resulted in my game NEON–a game that came really close to going into production. And, I tell the sad story of how the creative process wound its way down to a failed dead end.

After the NEON project ended, my next job was to design the Atari 7800 cartridge adaptation of Food Fight. But, that’s a story for another day…