The Art of Video Games: “Beginnings” Exhibition Video

One of the things that’s really fun with games
is the whole idea of the playful mind and how can we make
games surprise you? When we did the VCS probably the biggest surprise
that we had was how flexible it was. And yet it was
extremely powerful in what you could do with it. There’s no question that when you have a very,
very fundamental systemÉ You know, it’s like,
we were building games based on the rules of physics. You know,
it was really simple. And yet it was extremely powerful in what
you could do with it if you were creative, interested and very,
very smart. It used to be the case that the hardware engineers
would put together cool technology and then throw
it at the software guys and say here figure out what
you can do with this. And the software guys, clever guys that they
are would not only learn how to use it, but they’d always
try drive it to its maximum limitsÉ where they wanted to take the system and make
it bigger, make it better. So, they drove the basic design
of it and evolved it into a more powerful system. Back in the early days, the graphics were
crude enough that we did our own graphics. The sounds were crude
enough that we did our own sounds. So we became the designer,
the director, the art director, the musician.
We even wrote the manual, designed the box. The game Pitfall! evolved out of a lot of
trail and error. It started with, let me try to make a man
running on the screen. Where might he be running? I’ll make
him run in a jungle. Why not? All you need is the faintest kernel of an
idea to start with and you work on perfecting that little
nugget until it feels fun. And you build upon that. The obligation in the early days of games
was heavily on the user for willing suspension of disbelief.
We really did ask users to use their imagination. And,
because the whole idea of computer graphics telling a story
was so fresh, they were ready to do it. You’d like of all the things you could do
in a perfect whole, and the tech would let you do the postage
stamp in the middle of that that landscape. But, of
course, the postage stamp keeps getting bigger as the
years go by. My son was about six. He wanted a Nintendo
system for Christmas. We plugged it in and up came Super
Mario Brothers for the very first time. And I was blown away by the phenomenal growth
and development that games had undergone. And,
I thought, if those ten years wrought that much change in
the capacity of this mediumÉ Éthis was going to be a medium of enormous
expressive capacity of enormous social capacity. That it was going to be the art form of the
21st century.

2 thoughts on “The Art of Video Games: “Beginnings” Exhibition Video

  1. Yes. With a currennt annual gross of several billion dollars and over 200 BILLION hours spent playing just ONE franchise's game series, we need to re-center the world's focus on how it all started. [heart MLG]

  2. I am a video game collector. The video started with Nolan Bushnell, as it should have. I can't wait to see this. I hope to do a video about Mr. Bushnell in one of my Video Reviews on my page. The video game industry owes him a debt of gratitude.

    My only critique is it's pronounce "Mar-ee-oh", not "Mare-ee-oh". I'm mostly joking about this. Great video.

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