A Graveyard of Atari Cartridges and New Gamers

There have been very few rumors among gamers that were as prolific as the story of the graveyard of old Atari 2600 cartridges buried within a dessert in Alamogordo, New Mexico.  This story has been talked about by gamers for years.  This story, that some were not certain actually happened, is so ingrained within the minds of gamers that it is a major plot point in The Angry Video Game Nerd Movie that came out earlier in 2014 and had been in production since 2011.  But something unexpected took place in 2014.  The rumored gravesite for these games turned out to be real.

As the article “Punk Archaeology and Excavating Video Games in New Mexico” states, “Few archaeological projects have generated as much popular media hoopla in North America as the recent excavations of a purported secret burial ground of Atari video games.”  Typically, if an archaeological expedition takes place, I will only hear about it in passing or see an article on Facebook.  This is one of the rare times where I found out about this and looked into it further.   It is a big deal when something in the gaming industry that is discussed for such a long time comes to light.  Though critically panned, Duke Nukem Forever‘s release warranted a lot of attention as it had “been in development” for 15 years.  The same happened with the discovery of the Atari carts.

Blogs were made, videos were filmed, and auctions were held.  The video game industry, though young, is very proud and interested in their history.  The pile of game debris is a symbol of how far the game industry has come: from the Video Game Crash of 1983 to the major form of entertainment media that it has become.  Gamers love to see that our industry of choice is becoming more and more popular.  It allows us to share our passion with others and someday new gamers will be talking about the graveyard of Centipede and ET.

Article:  “Punk Archaeology and Excavating Video Games in New Mexico”

Bioshock Infinite and Political Messages in Gaming

Are video games art?  This is a question that has been argued many times by a variety of different people from film critics to gamers.  However, whenever video games attempt to tackle a subject that is a deep political issue, there is a backlash.  Christopher Franklin, creator of the video this article was based on, said, “They want to proclaim their hobby to be art with no strings attached… They want their want games to have tremendous power, but without any responsibility.”

For example, in Irrational Games’ 2013 smash hit Bioshock Infinite there is a scene near the beginning where the main character is given the opportunity to throw a baseball at a couple because they were mixed race.  However, this is a game that takes place in a fictional flying city that was once a United State before leaving the Union in 1902.  The entire game is filled with propaganda, whether it be racially driven or deeply rooted in Christian beliefs.  One such incident took place where a picture from the game of George Washington holding the Liberty Bell in one hand and the Ten Commandments in the other surrounded by racist caricatures of Hispanics and Asians with a caption that said, “For God and Country.  It is out Holy Duty to guard against the foreign hordes.”  This picture was posted on a Tea Party Facebook page defending America’s “Holy Roots.”  This game was met with much controversy in the sense that its offensive portrayals of Blacks, Asians, and Non-Christians were everywhere to help create a more in-depth and believable world.

If we gamers want Video Games to be seen as art, we need to accept that a game may offend us.  Art makes a statement and Bioshock Infinite, along with other games, definitely make a statement that makes people question what they believe and how strongly they believe it.