Carol Shaw, the first widely recognized female game designer and programmer, has donated to The Strong a collection of console games, printed source code, design documents, sketches, reference materials, and promotional objects representing games she created for Atari, Inc.
For many decades, women have played key roles in the design, production, manufacture, marketing, and writing of video games, and yet their history in the gaming industry is too little preserved and too often underappreciated.
I have a confession to make. It’s kind of embarrassing, but I’m hoping readers will understand. I’m 34 years old, and just recently, I attended my first rock concert. Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering my profession, this concert consisted of a hard rock opera based on the 1980s video game series Mega Man.
As a child, I always enjoyed playing video games, but I never paid too much attention to the musical accompaniment in the background. It wasn’t until college that I first heard gaming music on its own. Prior to that, I simply enjoyed the music as background noise for games, or as musical cues that prompted me to “jump” or dodge an enemy.
“Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most human.” ~ Admiral James T. Kirk
I recently read Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One. The story captivated me and likely appeals to other gaming fans, especially those who—like me—happen to love 1980s pop-culture. Although the book takes place in the future, the plot encouraged me to think more about games from the past. In Ready Player One, America becomes a wasteland. To escape the onset of depression, the vast majority of citizens flee into Oasis, a virtual video game world. When the creator (James Halliday) of Oasis dies, both the real and virtual worlds become chaotic.
Some video games make us want to throw our controllers against the wall and swear never to play again. But somehow we always seem to find ourselves plopped back on the couch, controller clutched tightly in our hands, determined that this time will be different. Frustration and challenge are part of the appeal of a good game and that fits with much of what we know about what makes good play.