Trying to build some kind of a narrative #1 (Atari: Game Over)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2015/07/06 16:28 +00:00, original URI:

The documentary film Atari: Game Over is perhaps one that you have seen by now, either in the interactive XBOX Live version or maybe on Showtime like I saw it.

You can receive additional insights from reviews by IGN or A.V. Club or GeekWire or a hundred other sites. I didn't want to really talk about it much because I felt like I was kinda a victim of it, from way back (as an ignorant young outsider but still...).

l can vividly remember meeting with my sister in the early morning before school clandestinely, planning a campaign to explain why we should get an Atari 2600. We would point out all the benefits and how much we all would be able to enjoy it and so on and so on. We would plant the seeds and see what took root....

Our father said no but let us finish our pitch.

And then he said *NO*.

But I knew that the hook was in.

Soon enough he had proven himself true to his word and found the easiest way to make that he would never have to buy us an Atari 2600 game console with its set number of games.

He "outsmarted" his young children by purchasing the Sears branded version of the Atari 2600, known as Sears Intelligames, with probably twice as many game cartridges.

To misquote Tom Cruise from Top Gun, he sure hustled the shit out of us! ;-)

Then my mom got hooked on Breakout! and later on Superbreakout! and the main fighting that happened now was on which kind of game controllers would be plugged into the console and how to make sure that the games were put away....

The movie was covering two different stories:

• whether the fall of Atari was principally caused by ET The Video Game, widely considered to be the worst game of all time (especially by many people who had never played it!), and

• whether the company dumped millions of ET cartridges into the Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill.

Now I don't want to burden anyone who hasn't seen the documentary with too many spoilers, so I won't, except to say that it is much more complicated than all that.

But I am glad to be able to feel like Howard Scott Warshaw was largely vindicated, and Spielberg really ought to apologize for either lying to everyone about having signed off on the final build or for misleading people into thinking that it would be a great game.

If the real ET needed the game to phone home, he would deserve postmortem apology too.

One final thing: if Spielberg can afford to pay Lucas every year for a silly bet, he can afford to pay HSW a one time payday for his negative contribution to his own personal universe. I'm just saying....

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