Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System (Platform Studies)

Epub Racing The Beam The Atari Video Computer System Platform Studies
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Racing the Beam: How Atari 2600's Crazy Hardware Changed Game Design

Cloth: ISBN: Description - Contents - Reviews. Through its main example, the book provides unique insight into the role of underlying hardware and software systems in new media. It is the first extensive application of the platform studies approach to a single computing system.

Racing The Beam: The Story of Stella

We developed the original approach of platform studies by drawing on textual studies, computer programming and engineering, and computer game studies. Platform studies also reaches out beyond the computer or console itself, investigating how people use the platform in ways both expected and unexpected.

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Elements of platform studies have been in place in the new media and game studies communities for some time such as N. Racing the Beam more fully examines the Atari , connecting the MOS processor and the TIA video chip at the heart of the VCS with the code that programmers had to squeeze into 4K of cartridge ROM, and juxtaposing these constraints of the platform with outside forces, such as release deadlines and franchise demands.

In any case, they provide an elegant starting point to begin thinking about digital games beyond merely playing them with a critical eye. Beginning at the bottom level, there is the actual platform , that is, the physical hardware the game is played on. But in fact a platform is a composite of various chips, circuits, controllers, storage devices, and so on.

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And each of these individual components offers affordances—capabilities that are both enabling and limiting. The code is the next layer of the model. Think of how some older Mac software no longer runs on recent MacBook Pros. Following the code is the form and functioning of the game. Usually this is what we talk about when we talk about games. Read almost any scholarly work on videogames, and this is the level under consideration. Rare are the critics who pay attention to the layers below the game form.

The layers above game form have, in contrast to those below, received attention from critics. The interface of the game is the contact point between player and machine—the screen, the controllers, the keyboard, the Wii Balance Board or the Kinect. These are all examples of interfaces, and the relatively venerable discipline of human computer interaction HCI is just one of many fields that have brought their methodologies to bear on understanding how interfaces shape our experiences with computers.

The Atari Video Computer System

Platform Studies. Ian Bogost and Nick Montfort, editors. Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System, Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost,. Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System (Platform Studies) (): Nick Montfort, Ian Bogost: Books.

How have games changed to match high definition displays? And the shift from a directional pad on a Nintendo DS to a touch screen on the iPod Touch can be measured in terms of interface as well.

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Sociologists, anthropologists, and psychologists have long studied the upper layer, the reception and operation of games. How games are played, how they are received, and how players and non-players make sense of them. Delving into the world of chiptunes or the demoscene would likewise require an attentiveness to reception and operation, and in particular, an appreciation of the way virtuosity, prestige, and social capital work in technologically-oriented subcultures.

Finally, bounding all of these layers is the broader historical and cultural context. And this is where I see platform studies as an especially rich mode of historical inquiry.

Look closely at any of the five layers and you can see how it is not only dependent on the layers below, but also on the context that presses in from every side. Racing the Beam is as much a history of pop and videogame culture in the seventies as it is a close examination of the Atari VCS.

Similarly, a platform studies book on the Commodore 64 would resonate with the eighties, in terms of the technology inside the device of course, but also in the way the computer was designed, manufactured, marketed, and used. Every console is a product of its times, quite literally.