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Games Look Back at First Video Games

Aired August 7, 2001 - 08:55:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LIAN PEK, CNN ANCHOR: Forty years ago, Restless Universe created what is considered the very first computer game. From Space War to Playstation, the industry has changed and evolved into a multibillion dollar industry.

Jim Bolden reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BOLDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Space Invaders took to the screens in 1978. Its animated character and state-of-the-art sound started the video game craze. Twenty-tow years later, copies of Space Invaders and more simple predecessors, like Atari's PONG, are still sought after by gamers, even those who weren't born when a character named Pacman chomped his way across television screens in the early 1980s.

BARRY MORGAN, COMPUTER EXCHANGE: They're very simple, but it's essentially pure game play. It's when games didn't look that good, so they had to make up for it. So they made sure it was the most playable and the most variable it could possibly be.

BOLDEN: Too bad if your mother threw out your old game consoles. Computer Exchange stores in Britain sell hundreds of dollars of the old stuff every day, to excitable customers.

MORGAN: The screams and the oohs and the ahhs I get from people coming down here and staring into the cabinets, pressed up against the screens, remembering all their old machines.

BOLDEN: You can't buy the first video game. Space Wars was created at MIT 40 years ago. It could only run on the mini-computers of the day, found at universities and government backrooms.

The early games may not be much to look at, but they spurred on people like David Braben, who helped migrate games from the arcade and television to the newly created PC. He and a fellow Cambridge university student created computer game Elite in 1982, after trying to find games for their BBC computer.

DAVID BRABEN, FRONTIER DEVELOPMENTS: I did actually manage to buy a thing they called a games pack, which had four games in it, and I thought they were appallingly bad. I was shocked by how bad they were, because they were expensive, a lot of money.

Elite went on to sell more than a million copies and helped Europe become the home of games developers, such as Ubi Soft, Infogrames, Eidos, and Lionhead. But Braben's role-playing game took weeks to play and was nothing like most titles released today.

BRABEN: So it's clear the games are just not appealing. I can see why, and I think everyone can see why, to be honest. Running around shooting things has its moment, but that moment doesn't last long.

BOLDEN: Since the early 1980s, video and arcade games have been blamed for everything from truancy to theft, and, of course, violence, but nothing has stopped those little shapes on the early screens evolving into today's larger-than-life characters.

Jim Bolden, CNN Financial News, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

END

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