Godfather of Gaming Holds Court

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Always On reports on the wisdom imparted by Nolan Bushnell. Nolan founded Atari, and gave some of Silicon Valley’s finest their big break. Key outtakes below:

  • Computer gaming is isolating. 90 per cent of board games are bought by women to help bring their families together, whilst solitaire is the most popular computer game.
  • The gaming business has shrunk. “The actual game business has dropped—in a physical sense—since 1976. Back then, 40 percent of the population played games. Now less than 15 percent of the population plays games. Whole sections of the market have been turned off by the violent and epic nature of modern games.
  • Photorealism does NOT equal good game play.
  • Sequel-itis. “I’m worried about the world devolving too quickly to sequels. The thing that drives entertainment forever is newness.”
  • Console gaming: “It’s Microsoft’s to lose.” [Commenting on the expected release of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 by Thanksgiving, months ahead of the Playstation 3.] “Xbox’s timing is very good. It’s Microsoft’s to lose at this point. Sony’s making a late entrance. Despite interesting technology, they will struggle a bit.”
  • Cell phones: not for serious game play. “Larger screens will be the de facto choice for people who are serious about game playing. You’ll see trinkets on cell phones, but they’ll be less important.” One exception: “A new series of games will evolve where the cell phones’ relationship to physical space will be important. People will come together to play games in proximity. The person who can create that will bring tremendous viral marketing.”
  • Education is a huge, untapped gaming market.