By ZombiePie 22 Comments
I would first like to state what this blog is not. This blog is not in any way vessel for me to voice criticism towards the policies that define what should and shouldn't be given a wiki article on Giantbomb. I realize and support the concept that there must be an absolute rule with as little ambiguity as possible when defining whether or not a person deserves a wiki article on Giant Bomb. The first person didn't receive a credit because his version of the only video game he designed was scraped. For the next, video game credits did not exist at the time and also his only video game was never "formally" released. Then last two out of the four persons listed were business men that were not involved in the creative process of designing video games. However despite these facts these men exerted their influence on the industry, and this cannot be denied and is at least worth a blog. Also it's worth noting that these individuals are not listed or sorted by level of importance, but instead are listed in the order I was able to recall them.
Unlike many of the names that I will list Steve Wozniak is an already well known figure, I mean the dude was one of founders of Apple Corp! However his influence on video games is not nearly as well documented as his contributions to computer design. The story goes like this, at the time Steve Jobs (if you don’t know who he is who’ve been living under a rock your entire life) was working for Atari at the time and was ordered by Nolan Bushnell to make “single player version of Pong.” Steve Jobs then approached Steve Wozniak, who was working for HP at the time, to help him with the project, which would later be titled “Breakout.” So what does this have to do with overlapping influences on the video game industry? Well something clicked inside Mr. Wozniak, seeing and creating all of these colored bricks did something to him. It would go on to convince Mr. Wozniak that the Apple II had to be more like an arcade cabinet, and that the computer’s interface couldn’t be monochromatic, that it needed to include paddles, and have various colored graphics interlaced on the screen. Also his experience in designing Breakout convinced Mr. Wozniak that the Apple II had to be capable of playing video games if the computer was going to succeed, hence why Mr. Wozniak calls his Apple II a “game computer.” However something else happened—something else extremely important worth noting. While designing the Apple II Steve Wozniak wanted to see if he could create a video game just from using an updated version of BASIC. So naturally he designed his own version of Breakout via the Apple II’s programming language, dubbed GAME BASIC, making it, technically, the first game for the computer. As a result Mr. Wozniak made himself one of the first (thought not THE absolute first) to program a game using only software and not hardware (e.g. an arcade cabinet), and the rest is well…you get the idea.
If Steve Colley’s name doesn’t ring any bells then don’t worry it’s not your fault, I mean the guy only designed one game! However Steve Colley is probably one of the most unfortunately forgotten figures in the video game industry especially when the fruits of his labor are noted. Mr. Colley stands as one of the most important early video game designers, and this all is due to his single piece of work for the video game industry—Maze War. While primitive to today’s standards Maze Wars is an incredibly influential game. For one thing it stands as one of, if not THE, earliest first person shooters. The game was also one of the first to be designed with three dimension graphics. However most importantly, Maze Wars was designed to network with your computer, and allowed you to play with other gamers via the internet. Yup, this was the first video game with online multiplayer! As such today’s massively multiuser online games owe a huge debt to Maze War for being the first to allow users to interact with other users that were not with their home. Oh and if you’re feeling sorry for Steve Colley for not knowing who he is, don’t worry, Mr. Colley would go onto get a job with NASA and would design and create prototypes for the Mars Rover projects.
So much was done under David Rosen’s arms, and yet he receives so little credit for it. Despite just being an American GI who was stationed in Japan at one point, Rosen would go onto found and create one of the largest Japanese video game makers, SEGA. So for all of those gamers who hold some level of nostalgia towards the consoles that SEGA once produced, a certain level of gratitude is in order for Mr. Rosen. That’s right; David Rosen is the man who essentially got SEGA invested in the home console market. In fact it was Mr. Rosen who saved the company after the video game crash. Rosen was able to convince Japanese business man, Hayao Nakayama, that the video game recession wouldn’t last too long and would eventually pass over, meaning that it was an industry worth investing in now. The sales pitch worked, and after years of being owned by various companies, SEGA became…SEGA. With their spike in assets SEGA would go onto become the iconic figurehead that many gamers view the company to this day. However Rosen did one last thing worth noting, he convinced SEGA to found an American division of the company, Sega of America, meaning SEGA would become and forever remain heavily invested in the American video game market, and other than their competition Nintendo and a few other Japanese corporations, they were one of the first Japanese companies to do so and as a result more Japanese video game companies started to take the American video game market more serious.
When the well known psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud was asked by a British newspaper journalist on how he felt about his new found fame he responded by saying “I’m not famous—I’m notorious.” Such words can be used to describe Jack Tramiel, as he remains a controversial figure in the world of video games. On one hand Tramiel was the man who founded Commodore International, the company best known for making affordable computers for consumers (e.g. the Vic-20 & more notably the Commodore 64). The computers that Tramiel oversaw sold over a million units, a first for the industry at the time. As a result Tramiel propped up a burgeoning video game market for personal computers, and had it not been for his efforts to design computers for all markets of consumers, then PC gaming would definitely be different. However, on the second hand Tramiel also has the dishonor of mismanaging a video game and home console manufacturer, Atari. When Tramiel bought Atari from Warner Brothers the company was bleeding money, and in hopes that he could rejuvenate the company Tramiel took a hard liner and cut throat businesses style, but this plunged the company into even more debt. This coupled with the ill-conceived Atari 7800, Lynx, and Jaguar launches caused Tramiel to eventually sell Atari to JTS Corp. As a result Tramiel is hailed by PC gamers as a pioneer, but is accosted by console gamers as a man who ran one of the most important video game companies straight to the ground.