Racing the Beam The Atari Video Computer System

ISBN-10: 026201257X
ISBN-13: 9780262012577
Edition: 2009
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $27.95
Copyright year: 2009
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 1/9/2009
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 192
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.946
Language: English

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 platformsthe 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 Warcraftand Grand Theft Auto), by allowing the player to walk off one side into another space; and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Backwas an early instance of interaction between media properties and video games. Montfort and Bogost show that the Atari VCSoften considered merely a retro fetish objectis an essential part of the history of video games. Platform Studies series

Nick Montfort is Associate Professor of Digital Media at MIT and the coauthor of Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System (MIT Press, 2009).

Ian Bogost is Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and Professor of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Founding Partner at Persuasive Games LLC, and the coauthor of Newsgames: Journalism at Play (MIT Press, 2010).

Series Foreword
Acknowledgments
Timeline
Stella
Combat
Adventure
Pac-Man
Yars' Revenge
Pitfall!
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
After the Crash
Afterword on Platform Studies
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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