Relics or rubbish?

In these posts, I have discussed how games can give a bad view of archaeology, how archaeological research has been used within games, and how games have the potential to educate about archaeology. However, there is also an archaeology and a history of gaming, as an industry.

At the beginning of 1982, the video game industry was doing well. It was still a relatively new industry, and was flush from a successful Christmas season, typically the time of year that sales are highest. However, there was a trend of games made extremely quickly and of poor quality, resulting in an oversaturated market, and consumers that quickly tired of this. The industry crashed in 1985, and nearly resulted in the end of the industry entirely. One of these games, indeed the one that was most notorious, and widely regarded as one of the main causes of the crash, was the Atari version of Steven Spielburg’s 1982 film, E.T. This game was created single-handedly, over a period of 6 weeks (Reinhard, 2015, pg. 86). To put this in perspective, the best-selling game of 2016, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, (Tassi, 2017)- while not having a favourable reception from fans, or a great reputation as a series- was in development for three years, with an entire company working on it (McWhertor, 2014). Atari, the game’s publisher, confident that the game would sell without issue, produced millions of the cartridges before the end of the year.

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