Your Move

Board games. Video games. Anything but mind games. KMUW commentator Sam McConnell explores the latest (and the time-tested) world of games.

Your Move can also be found on iTunes. Listen or subscribe here.

Before the entire video game industry in the United States crashed in 1983, video game consoles were largely a United States product. Atari, Coleco, Magnavox, and Mattel were the big players - all US companies. However, with the industry’s crash, there was a vacuum. 

Many factors caused the Video Game Crash starting in 1983, but one of the most significant was Atari’s overconfidence. Atari was the leader in home video game consoles throughout the early ‘80s, and took their nearly indomitable lead and squandered it with a string of disappointing games coupled with over-optimistic sales projections.

Once upon a time, Atari was the name in video games. Sure, there was the Colecovision and Intellivision, but Atari was the dominant force in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. But that all came to an abrupt end in the mid ‘80s with a huge recession in the industry which is known as the Video Game Crash.

With Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, for the Nintendo Switch, what’s old is new again.

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Late last year, Nintendo released the NES Classic Edition, a $60 miniature game console with 30 classic Nintendo games on it. I never got one - in fact, I’ve never seen one.

The Mass Effect trilogies are some of my favorite video games of the previous console generation. I’m a sucker for rich characters and deep world-building, and this is where the Mass Effect series really shined. The universe you occupied in these games felt real and lived-in. Each alien species had a rich history and their own relationships with humans. When I played Mass Effect games, I could imagine myself inhabiting this world.

The very first Nintendo game I ever owned was The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Game Boy. It was the first adventure game I had ever played. No game before had challenged me with its puzzles, and gripped me with a story that served as more than a thin plot to build gameplay around. It was the first time I had ever cared about the characters in a game and what happened to them.

Last week, Nintendo released their newest game system, the Nintendo Switch. 

Nintendo has been the leader in portable video gaming ever since they basically invented the market segment with the Game Boy in 1989. That doesn’t mean they’ve been the only player, though. 

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I grew up with video games. Working to better my high score at a certain game is in my blood. At one point, I was obsessed with getting the absolute lowest time possible on the first level of Sonic 2. (For the record: I’ve done it in 20 seconds, the world record is 18.)

Product designers have caught on to this, and have started taking some of the design elements of video games to use in contexts that are definitely not video games. This is called gamification.

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