Ep. 13: Living Atari’s History with Kevin Bunch

Chicken owner and gaming historian, Kevin Bunch, joins us to share some of the lessons he’s learned by living the history of the Atari VCS by playing each game released in its chronological order. The Atari Archive gives the exact context needed to truly appreciate each game for what it really was at the time of its introduction. 

See more from Kevin Bunch:

Twitter: @ubersaurus

YouTube: /atariarchive

Website: atariarchive.org

Pateron: /atariarchive

The Video Game History Hour music is Blippy Trance by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Transcript

Kelsey Lewin  00:00

Welcome to episode number 13 of the Video Game History Hour, presented by the Video Game History Foundation.  Every episode we’ll be bringing in an expert guest: someone who’s done their research and has an interesting story from video game history to tell.  My name is Kelsey Lewin, I’m the co-director of the Video Game History Foundation.  And I’m here, as always, with Frank Cifaldi, the founder and co-director of the Video Game History Foundation.

Frank Cifaldi  00:21

Our guest today is historian and friend and chicken owner, Kevin Bunch.  Kevin, among other things, is the creator of the Atari Archive series of chronological looks at the library for the Atari VCS – or if you prefer the 2600, though you are wrong.  Kevin, welcome to the Video Game History Hour.

Kevin Bunch  00:46

Oh, it’s great to be here.  And thank you for plugging my chickens.

Frank Cifaldi  00:50

Yes, of course.  They’re very good chickens.  I wish I lived locally to get your free eggs. Because we go through a lot of eggs at the Cifaldi household.

Kelsey Lewin  00:59

I don’t think you actually want either of us to live near you, because… Yeah.  We’d be taking a lot of eggs.  And I think you probably use those?

Kevin Bunch  01:07

I mean, they produce a lot more eggs than I can use, so hey!

Kelsey Lewin  01:11

Mm!  All right.  

Frank Cifaldi  01:13

OK, we got to move.

Kelsey Lewin  01:14

Guess I’m moving out east! [laughter]

Frank Cifaldi  01:16

So, Kevin, the Atari Archive is attempting to play through every VCS game chronologically.  And I’ve always been fascinated by what I might call, like, a very slow digestion of history; a very macro-level look into the history of games.  Or anything, I guess.  Is that kind of where this is coming from for you, too?  Did you think that you might discover something new if you sort of slowed down and went one by one?

Kevin Bunch  01:54

Yeah, that’s really a good way of putting it.  My thinking when I sort of jumped into this was each of these games came out at a specific point in time in a specific context.  And, you know, just looking at them as a blur or as a list in the emulator folder, you kind of lose that context.   You know, why this game came out at this particular time, how was it received, that sort of thing.

Kelsey Lewin  02:24

Well, and especially for a system like the 2600, there’s a very huge jump in quality and capability of the games from the early days of it to the later days of it.  So I mean, if you show someone a random Atari 2600 game and you say, “This is what Atari 2600 games look like,” there’s there’s a pretty good amount of context you’re going to be missing there, because they can look much worse and they can look much better.

Kevin Bunch  02:52

Yeah, I mean, the system had, what, a 14 year life on the market? And that’s just the commercial life!  And just so much came out over that period.  And let me tell you, having gotten through all of the stuff from the ’70s, some of it is kind of dire, to put it mildly.

Frank Cifaldi  03:11

I mean, I would imagine that would be I think what would prevent me most from a project like this is, having to really try to play something that is kind of almost objectively without value today.

Kevin Bunch  03:31

Yeah, I don’t know who would be banging down the door to play Star Ship for the Atari right now.  That was a 1977 release, and everything from Star Raiders on (you know, from ’79), that just did the same thing.  It did so much better.  But you know, for 1977, it’s a super-cool game and there’s nothing else really like it.

Frank Cifaldi  03:56

So is that maybe an example of a game that you didn’t appreciate before but because you’re forcing yourself to live history that you learned how to appreciate it?

Kevin Bunch  04:13

Yeah, I think that’s a really good example.  Because again, it’s like a first person spaceship game.  You’re flying around, you’re shooting things and, you know, that’s about all there is to it.  There’s no jumping around a map or doing any other objectives.  Just, “Oh, you have two and a half minutes!  Shoot a bunch of stuff or dodge a bunch of rocks.” And you know…

Kelsey Lewin  04:39

Thrilling.

Kevin Bunch  04:40

Thrilling, yeah. [laughter]  But you know, it’s 1977 it’s like, “Holy crap!  This is a first-person perspective home video game!”

Frank Cifaldi  04:50

Right, on a system which listeners might know is just not something that should be able to do a first-person perspective game.  That seems like voodoo, knowing how the system works!

Kevin Bunch  05:04

Yeah, when I talked to a number of the early developers on these games, and I believe Star Ship was the one that Joe Decuir, one of the people who helped design the system, remarked the first time he saw that, he’s like, “Wow!  What the heck are they doing with this thing?”

Frank Cifaldi  05:26

So it just seems like such a hard project for a lot of reasons.  I mean, we’re kind of half-joking about having to play the games.  But, like, I would think one of the biggest challenges is that you, as a historian, you really want to tell their stories, right?  That you want to talk to these guys, frankly, while they’re still alive?  And is there maybe sort of a sense of, like, that you have to be doing this correctly?  Like, there’s a pressure on you that no one else is going to actually slow down and look at these one by one?

Kevin Bunch  06:04

Yeah, there’s a bit of that.  You know, I am mindful of the fact that a lot of these people are getting older and a lot of them only want to talk about this stuff so many times, you know.  There’s a few of them that are happy to just throw down and chat about work that they did 40 years ago, but a lot of them’s like, “Yeah, OK…”  But as soon as they’re done, you know, I can’t hear from them ever again.

Kelsey Lewin  06:29

I mean, some of these guys, they told their story (or what they what they thought of as their story) once or twice at a really old, classic gaming expo, like, early 2000s or something.  And then they were like, “OK, done.”  I feel like I’ve heard you mentione that in a couple videos where it’s like, “Well, this guy talked back then and not so much now.”

Kevin Bunch  06:51

Yeah, and that brings me to another kind of a struggle with this, is that some of these people are almost impossible to track down.  I think the one you were referring to most recently, like, it’s in my most recent video, which – as of this recording – is a Maze Craze one.  And that was done by Rick Maurer, who also did Space Invaders.  So he talked at the old classic gaming expos about Space Invaders to people who would ask him about that, being the big huge hit for the VCS.  But barely anyone asked him about Maze Craze.  And, you know, almost no one asked him about his time at Fairchild, which he did Channel F games before he came to Atari.  So, you know, I’d really like to talk to him about those things.  But he’s been M.I.A. for something, like, 12 years now.

Kelsey Lewin  07:46

Ugh…

Frank Cifaldi  07:46

Oh, God…

Kelsey Lewin  07:47

And, I mean, with that Maze Craze video – and you do this with a lot of your videos and I think this is almost necessary for something like this – you spend a ton of time kind of setting up the context for a game.  I mean, I wasn’t timing it.  But I felt like the first one-third to one-half of that video was not about Maze Craze.  It was about all of the other maze games that came before, maze AI experiments, arcade games like Gotcha and that sort of thing.  So when you’re trying to do a definitive video for a game like this, how do you decide what context is important and what to include?

Kevin Bunch  08:26

So for me, obviously, I want to talk about anything that directly could have influenced the game in question.  So, you know, if I’m talking about Maze Craze, I’ve got to talk about the Channel F game, Maze!, which Rick Maurer did mention CGE he just ripped-off wholesale, because he really liked it.  But then I also have to consider, “OK, well, where did Maze! come from?  Well, right before Maze! was [The] Amazing Maze [Game], the arcade game.  Which is basically the same thing.  So I got to talk about that.  And if I’m going to talk about an arcade game, I got to talk about Gotcha, because that was a previous maze arcade game, even though there’s no real connection that I’m aware of between the two.  And it just sort of becomes a rabbit hole.  At some point it’s just like, “Well, you know… these experimental AI maze programs in the ’50s, they’re probably not direct influences?  But I should probably just bring them up because who else is ever going to in this sort of context?”

Kelsey Lewin  09:31

I do think it’s interesting, trying to chase something all the way down to the root.  I mean, that becomes harder and harder the further along in the video game industry you get.  But when you’re talking about, you know, mid-to-late ’70s, early ’80s, it’s doable?  But you got to mention a bunch of steps, but it’s doable.  And I think that that’s a really interesting part of what you’re doing here, is just trying to find every rung on the ladder and walk it all the way back down.

Kevin Bunch  10:01

Yeah, and for me, it’s really important to do that with the stuff from the ’70s and ’60s because so much of that isn’t emulated, or it’s emulated poorly, or really can’t be emulated.  And so it’s just really easy to fall through the cracks or just get overlooked by people today who aren’t really digging in as deep.  I actually have to inquire with a few other historians every now and then.  I’m like, “OK, I think this is everything maze-wise.  Did I miss anything?”  They’re like, “Oh, well, you missed this program, I guess?” And I’ll go, “OK, cool.”

Frank Cifaldi  10:41

And that brings up kind of an interesting discussion point, that I have to admit I’m not intimately familiar with, which is the the lack of representation – of playable representation, I should specify – of a lot of our earliest video game history. I mean, can you can you talk a little bit about that?

Kevin Bunch  11:02

Yeah.  So, a number of the earliest arcade games were… I guess, how would you put it?  A number of the earliest arcade games would be TTL, transistor-transistor logic type of games.  So they don’t have a ROM or microprocessor for you to emulate.  So if you are going to emulate them, you have to basically take the entire circuitry of the boards (which can be multiple boards) and put that whole thing into an FPGA, or your emulator or whatever.  Which, up until fairly recently, I don’t think was really feasible.  I know there’s been some emulators in the past few years that have taken a crack at it.  And I think a lot of it’s been roped into MAME now.  But even then, you have to find these boards that are still in working shape.  If they do have, like, sprite data on a ROM chip, you have to dump the ROM.  You might need to get a schematic for it to be able to make sense of what you’re looking at.  Which fortunately a lot of these games had manuals for troubleshooting and repair, but you have to get a hold of those.  And that’s just the arcade side!  You’ve also got dedicated game systems for the home that are in the same boat.  And then you’ve got computer systems from the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s that may not be emulated, or the code for these things might be lost. And it’s just… it’s a monstrosity!

Frank Cifaldi  12:44

Yeah. 

Kelsey Lewin  12:45

And it’s such a mess, especially for games that… You know, when people think of emulators, I think a lot of times they think of like, “Well, I just want to play the old games that I like.”  And a lot of these type of games, these like really early arcade games, they’re not that fun by modern standards.  So not only is it all this effort that has to go into preserving this history.  But it seems to me like there’s probably not as much motivation, just because there’s probably not a lot of average people loading these up and being like, “Yeah, I really want to play this super-old arcade game where you move some dots around on a screen.”

Frank Cifaldi  13:25

Right?  I mean it’s like, in order to put in all of that volunteer labor into reverse engineering and implementing this game, you have to have some level of personal interest.  I don’t know any MAME devs who work on things that they just don’t care about at all.  And not to be a downer but it gets a little bit scary with some of this stuff, because not only is the material itself kind of easily lost and volatile, but the potential interest from people to implement it, I think, is aging out, frankly.

Kevin Bunch  14:09

Yeah.  Gosh, fairly recently there was a one example that comes to mind.  You know, the historian Kate Willaert was on a – or “will art,” sorry… 

Frank Cifaldi  14:23

It’s a pun, right?  She’s an artist, she “will art.”  That’s how I remember. 

Kevin Bunch  14:26

Yeah, yeah!  But yeah, she was on a hunt for Score, the arcade game from I believe Exidy.  And that probably has one of the first examples of a playable female character in a game.  But Score was not very popular.  And there’s only what, two or three boards that are known to exist and none of them work?  And she’s been sort of trying off and on to see if anyone who owns one would be willing to just have it worked on, and while they’re at it, maybe dump the ROM and get some good photos taken of the circuit board so it can get emulated.  But, you know, that hasn’t happened.  And, you know, there’s no footage of this game online.  So we can’t really say for sure if it is what she’s looking for.

Frank Cifaldi  15:20

Right?  Yeah, it could just end up being a false lead in her… I don’t think we’re out of turn by saying that she’s researching playable female characters and games and trying to figure out the route.  And yeah – it could, like you said just turn out to be a false lead for her even after all that work.  I mean, especially a lot of this early arcade stuff is just – and I don’t mean to turn this conversation in this dark direction – but you know, I have some history with this as well, which is I’ve worked on commercial products where we wanted to include games and just literally couldn’t find them.  The biggest one being that when I worked on a collection with SNK that was meant to celebrate their history going back to their roots; it was meant to be the roots of SNK before they made the NeoGeo.  We couldn’t include the first SNK game because we couldn’t find it!  It’s not in MAME.  It’s not a board that’s available anywhere.  It just doesn’t exist!

Kelsey Lewin  16:34

You had people go to Japan, too, right?

Frank Cifaldi  16:36

Oh, yeah.

Kelsey Lewin  16:36

To look around and… 

Frank Cifaldi  16:37

Brandon Sheffield, who worked on the project, went to an archive of boards and he didn’t have the game either.  He had… there were maybe three in the series?  It was called Micon Kit.  I think it might have had Micon Kit 3.  But you know, he didn’t have the first one.  Or the second one for that matter.  And it’s, you know, just weird to… I think a lot of people just assume that all of this stuff is kind of covered?  But it’s just weird to think that, like, we don’t have the first SNK game.  We don’t have a lot of Konami’s earliest games.  It’s like, a lot of the really early arcade stuff is just literally inaccessible.

Kevin Bunch  17:19

And so much of it was influential.   Like, you talk about Breakout and how Breakout was this big hit in Japan, and how Space Invaders is basically just a version of Breakout.  And, you know, that’s a whole line on its own.  And Breakout itself was an iteration of a Ramtek arcade game called Clean Sweep, which no one’s really heard of.  I think it’s in MAME, but it’s one of those TTL games that I think someone managed to get working a few years back.  But it’s readily overlooked.  And that’s just sort of the nature of these seventies games.  Which is one thing I really like to do with these videos is, I want to bring attention to them and sort of celebrate them.  Even if they’re not really playable or not something you’d necessarily want to play.

Frank Cifaldi  18:17

Well, and a lot of your research is actually about the Channel F – which you mentioned earlier – which is a system that that predates the VCS.  Did that kind of come from this lack of pre-history?

Kevin Bunch  18:37

Yeah, I think for the Channel F and the RCA Studio II, which also predated the VCS.  Part of that was because they predated the system itself, yeah, and they were doing a lot of the same things that Atari did, but they sort of screwed up in their own ways. But if you look at their game libraries, they’re basically all the same sorts of things. You’ve got your math game, you’ve got some sort of (they’ll call it) Space War, but it’s usually some kind of target-shooting game.  You’ll have your Breakout clone, you’ll have your tank game, etc.  But the VCS is the one that hit it off and it really became something of interest to me like, “OK, well, why was that?  Why did Fairchild and RCA muck it up so badly?”  Turns out, they have very unique reasons in both cases.  But that’s also just part of the context I’m really interested in because I remember a time when the most you would get out of a history of those early game system was, “Oh, the games on this aren’t very good!  This system also kind of sucks!  There’s nothing more to see here!  Let’s move along.” [Laughter]

Kelsey Lewin  20:07

“We’re gonna wait until video games are good to start talking about them…”

Kevin Bunch  20:11

Yeah, apparently!

Frank Cifaldi  20:13

Well, I mean… even someone like me with those systems, it’s like, I don’t remember which one is the one where the controller is, like, a stick with a knob on top, you know?

Kelsey Lewin  20:23

Fairchild, right?

Frank Cifaldi  20:24

Is that the Fairchild?  

Kevin Bunch  20:26

Fairchild AND the Bally arcade!  

Frank Cifaldi  20:29

OK!  Oh, you know what it was the Bally one that I’m thinking of!  But point being, that these early systems kind of blurr together, even for someone like me!  So yeah, it is possibly a little unfair that we just don’t really have their stories, generally.

Kelsey Lewin  20:47

What do you think will help people appreciate these systems more?  I mean, what what’s kind of the way that you’ve identified as helping people understand why these early systems are actually kind of interesting root stories for other stuff?

Kevin Bunch  21:07

So one thing I have heard from feedback from people is that they really appreciate learning what people thought about these games when they came out.  What the same sorts of game concepts looked like on other platforms at the same time that these VCS ones dropped.  Because I think that helps them understand why the VCS version may have been really good or, you know, kind of crap.  And yeah, I’ve heard a lot of folks really be pleased.  I mean, I hate to hit it on it yet again, but all the arcade stuff and the computer stuff before that?  I have gotten a lot of feedback from people who are like, “Oh, wow, I didn’t realize that these games had such a long tale.”

Kelsey Lewin  21:56

Yeah, I think putting it in that context is really is so important for helping people, frankly, just care about these old games.  You know, you can kind of surround them with the other things and then you’re like, “Oh, OK!  I see why that actually was an interesting game,” rather than looking at it through a modern lens.  Or even a different retro lens, where you’re looking at it through like, “Well, I like NES games, but this is a little too primitive.”

Kevin Bunch  22:28

Yeah. Superman for the VCS really surprised me because I had never touched that game before doing this video series.  

Frank Cifaldi  22:36

Oh, interesting.

Kevin Bunch  22:37

Yeah. And not only was it pretty interesting, but it basically does the same things that Adventure does, just differently and with a different emphasis.  And that really comes out when you go through and you read what people were talking about at the time. Like, Superman was much, much, much more influential with Adventure for people in  the early eighties.  I remember reading a couple of reviews that go like, “Yeah, Adventure’s fine, but Superman is where it’s at!”

Kelsey Lewin  23:09

It helps that you’re not a dot.

Kevin Bunch  23:11

Yeah, and then at some point, it sort of flipped around.  And no one talks about Superman and everyone wants to talk about Adventure, because it reminds them of Zelda.

Frank Cifaldi  23:20

I think of Superman, I don’t know if it fits everyone’s definition of this, but I think of it as having one of the first cutscenes in a video game.  The criminals blowing up the bridge. 

Kevin Bunch  23:34

Yeah, it absolutely does.  And you know, it’s one of the first games to have multiple objectives.  It’s a game where you can’t die; it’s just a speed run, basically.  It does a lot of really like interesting and cool stuff.  But it also has multicolored characters!

Frank Cifaldi  23:51

Well, it’s like an open world and you can go in and out of buildings, like… It’s a really weirdly ambitious game that still kind of works!

Kevin Bunch  24:01

For 1979, no less!

Frank Cifaldi  24:03

Yeah!  Man, I want to play Superman now…

Kevin Bunch  24:07

I still maintain it’s the best Superman game that’s ever been made. 

Frank Cifaldi  24:10

Wow, that’s bold!

Kevin Bunch  24:13

Is it, though?

Frank Cifaldi  24:13

Although, I don’t know what the competition is…

Kelsey Lewin  24:16

Yeah, I’m trying to think!  [laughter]

Frank Cifaldi  24:18

The one on iPhone was pretty good?  [Laughter] There was this 2D one on iPhone that I thought was really good.  It was just a really simple arcadey game. Yes, so you were not the first to do a sort of “chron-gaming” concept as a series of videos.  Were you inspired by others?

Kevin Bunch  24:44

Oh, yes.  So I remember the time I sort of got in my head that I should do this was right after I discovered Chrontendo, which was about the same time that Jeremy Parish started doing his Game Boy stuff.  And I knew Jeremy – or I KNOW Jeremy – and I mentioned to him, “Oh, maybe I should do this for Atari,” just half jokingly and he’s like, “You absolutely should because somebody needs to and I don’t want to be that person!”

Kelsey Lewin  25:17

Yeah, they’re taking all the good ones and you’re taking the the one that starts out a little rough.

Kevin Bunch  25:24

I mean, so does the NES, let’s be real.

Kelsey Lewin  25:26

Yeah, that’s true.  There’s a lot of baseball games that Chrontendo helped to–

Kevin Bunch  25:27

Yeah, a lot of baseball games a lot of Mahjong… But yeah, so.  I was interested in the Atari, so that was an easy enough thing. But then I realized, “Oh, I don’t have any idea what chronological order any of this came out in.”  And it’s turned out, nobody else in 2013 did either, so…

Kelsey Lewin  25:36

Yeah. [Laughter]  So that’s actually a really good segue to the other thing I wanted to talk about.  You sort of have an Atari and – well, not just Atari, it’s for a lot of these old systems.  You have a release date project, where you’re trying to find release dates for games on earlier systems like the Odyssey 2 and the Astrocade and that sort of thing.  Can you talk a little bit about what makes these release dates so difficult to find?

Frank Cifaldi  26:13

And the two sources of all release dates? [Laughter]

Kevin Bunch  26:18

Yeah.  Yeah, I can. So, OK.  Back when I started this, the closest information I could find for when any of this stuff came out were gaming magazines, because they would advertise in them and they cover them.  But that was only, you know, so useful.

Frank Cifaldi  26:40

They start in ’82, you know?  They start five years into your project, gaming magazines!

Kevin Bunch  26:44

Yeah, so that was really terrible.  So I just had a lot of question marks for, like, ’78 and ’79, etc.  So a couple of things that did help narrow that down a bit was when you, Frank, scanned and posted on the Internet Archive the Computer Entertainer Video Game Update newsletter, which, you know, every month starting in late ’82 on would call all the publishers of all these games and get updates on when they were publishing or when they were shipping. 

Frank Cifaldi  26:56

Well, you know why they did that, right? 

Kevin Bunch  27:20

Because it was for retailers primarily

Frank Cifaldi  27:22

Well, because they WERE a retailer.  So the the editors of The Video Game Update ran a business before video game update even started, called Video Take-Out.  And Video Take-Out was a mail order game service.  They were one of the few places that you could buy, like magic card, for example.  So they were on top of that because they were the ones also ordering that stuff.  And so that’s that unique combination of them sending out a monthly newsletter to players and also being retailers at the same time just created our only record, reliably, of release dates from, like, ’82 to ’89.

Kevin Bunch  28:10

Yeah, and there were a couple other sources, like Arcade Express.  That newsletter is incredibly helpful, at least the ones that are online.  There’s a lot of gaps there, as it turns out.  Actually, the Bally Arcade newsletters that fans published were also incredibly good sources for information on that platform.  Because, you know, they were so starved for releases that anytime a new one dropped, it got mentioned at least two or three times. 

Frank Cifaldi  28:42

It was the cover feature for the next three issues… [laughter]

Kevin Bunch  28:47

Which actually, that one’s a lot fun, too, because they also covered all of the, like, fan games and fan releases.  So right up into 1985 and ’86, there’s release dates for Bally Arcade cartridges.

Frank Cifaldi  29:05

Well, and then… you also have to rely a lot on newspaper advertising and stuff like that, it seems like?

Kevin Bunch  29:13

Yep, I did get access to a couple different newspaper digital services, archives, I guess. And I’ve spent a fair amount of time looking up a specific game and seeing what early ads I can find for it, or articles and reviews and that sort of thing.  Which has helped fill in a lot of the gaps, because even though Computer Entertainer was thorough, they did not catch everything.  And sometimes they just were a little off.  I know if they couldn’t get a better update for a game it would just show up until apparently they found a copy or got copies of it.

Frank Cifaldi  29:58

Distributor just suddenly had them.  It’s like, “Oh, thanks.”

Kevin Bunch  30:01

Yeah.  So, you know.  A good example would be Q*Bert’s Qubes for the VCS and the ColecoVision which, according to Computer Entertainer, was supposed to ship, like, winter ’85, very late ’84.  And then, a couple of months ago, I found an Ed Semrad column from the Milwaukee Journal that had… He listed the specific month that they were coming out, because it was that month, and he’s like, “Oh, yeah, these are showing up in Sears stores, now.  You should go pick them up, because I don’t think they’re making any more.”

Frank Cifaldi  30:39

Man, that… So, Ed Semrad might be familiar to listeners as, eventually, the editor of Electronic Gaming Monthly.  And he kind of disappears out of video games in maybe, like, ’96 or ’97, when Sendai sells the magazine to Ziff Davis, but he had been writing columns for a newspaper that go back to ’81 or something like that, right?

Kevin Bunch  31:05

If I remember the earliest one is… is it ’82 or ’83?  It’s one those.

Frank Cifaldi  31:10

Something like that, but point being…

Kevin Bunch  31:11

For doing a weekly column!  

Frank Cifaldi  31:12

Right, it’s a weekly column, and he’s reporting on video games, like, way past when it makes sense.  He’s still talking about… Like, he reported on the Nintendo AVS being at CES, you know?  Like, it was that level of still reporting on this stuff.  And yeah, that column of his, potentially gold for this kind of thing.  And I remember when I was trying to substantiate the release of the NES, I was referencing his column.  And he had a date that was like, “Next Saturday, they’re releasing this.” [laughter] And it was a date that made no sense with anything else I know.  And I still wonder about it. You know, I still wonder like, “Was that the date all along?  This October 18th date that is kind of hard to substantiate like, is that actually wrong?  And it’s Ed’s next Saturday, which is, like, the 9th or something?”  I actually, I emailed Ed because I found his address, and I was like, “This is an odd question, but you know your writing better than I would… by next Saturday, do you think you meant this one or this one?” [Laughter]

Kelsey Lewin  32:30

Next Saturday, did you… [laughter]

Kevin Bunch  32:32

Well, it was a Saturday column, as it turns out, so…

Frank Cifaldi  32:36

It might not have been “next Saturday,” just pulled a date out of the air.  But yeah, I mean, you really have to look at resources like this.  Another one, Video Kid, comes to mind.  Like, that’s another column that’s going on around this time.

Kevin Bunch  32:49

Mm hmm.  Uh, Kid Vid that was another one.   Kid Vid!  Sorry, sorry… I think they both are columns!  And, you know, there’s periodicals that existed for specific industries, like Weekly Television Digest and Merchandising, they cover a lot of early video game news because, you know, it’s part of the toy and electronics industry, so…

Frank Cifaldi  33:17

Yeah, and it’s so hard to kind of track which industry video games are as years go on, you know?  Because it’s almost like in the early ’80s, they kind of were their own industry; they were just video games, but they also kind of spilled into toys and stuff. But then after they go away, it kind of becomes more of like consumer electronics, is where it goes?  And then it’s, like, “Maybe it’s toys again.”  And then briefly, it’s the home video industry, is where video games are!  And then they finally kind of settle around to being the video game industry again in I would say like, the ’90s, the early ’90s.  So finding these weird places where you might find coverage of the industry is very difficult, and in almost all cases, not in a library.

Kevin Bunch  34:15

Yeah, I only found Merchandising at the Library of Congress, which I really want to go back to once COVID is over, because there’s a bunch more issues I did not get to before the pandemic.  Weekly Television Digest, like… I have scans of those that a bunch of other historians have made and I just asked about and they sent over to me.  So I’ve got a collated list, but– 

Frank Cifaldi  34:45

Oh, I know that one, yeah.  I know who you’re talking about, too! [laughter]

Kevin Bunch  34:49

It was more than one, you know!  There’s a few of them.

Frank Cifaldi  34:52

I know, I send them a search term once in a while and they’ll send me a zip. [laughter]

Kevin Bunch  34:57

Yeah, so that’s what you get for your money with the Video Game History Foundation Discord. 

Frank Cifaldi  35:04

Yeah, that’s true, actually!  You get access to the people who took pictures of stuff. [laughter] The one that comes to mind for me that’s really compelling is This Week in Consumer Electronics, which is still going, goes back to maybe, like, ’89, ’87, maybe it’s something like that?  It’s a weekly consumer electronics newsletter that covered video games during the NES era.

Kevin Bunch  35:33

That’s wild. 

Frank Cifaldi  35:34

If you’re listening and you, I don’t know, ran a Sears or something and had a subscription to TWICE [This Week In Consumer Electronics] that you didn’t throw away for some reason?  Get in touch. [Laughter]

Kelsey Lewin  35:49

Is the ultimate source for something like this with the kind of holy grail of this be something like an old Sears buyer who just has all of the the sheets they were sent from manufacturers?

Kevin Bunch  36:05

Yeah, that could be one of them.

Frank Cifaldi  36:07

Yeah, I was gonna say it, I think it depends on the game, right?  Because Sears isn’t going to purchase everything.  But I think it’s, I don’t know, there’s so many sources, right?  Like, you think about it: you’ve got the manufacturer, who sends to the distributor.  Who are these distributors, right?  Kelsey, who are these distributors?  You have a game store. [laughter] 

Kelsey Lewin  36:30

Well, I mean for, like, Sears back in the day, I’m just speculating based on how things work these days, which is probably very, very different.  But at least in the game industry right now, if you’ve got a really big retailer, you deal with the company directly and there’s not a middleman.  But for someone like me, who owns a smaller store, Nintendo, or Ubisoft, or whoever may sell a bunch of copies of the game to a distributor who then kind of fans it out to all the smaller retailers.  But if you’re an Amazon or Best Buy or something, you’re likely dealing with the company just straight up.  So I would think that Sears probably dealt with those companies straight up but… I don’t know.

Kevin Bunch  37:18

At the very least, I imagine Sears dealt with Atari and Mattel directly because they had their own branded versions of that stuff.

Kelsey Lewin  37:24

Sure, maybe not the smaller releases and stuff.  Although I don’t know how much of that they would have really carried.

Kevin Bunch  37:30

Yeah, Magnevox would just sort of swing the wind…

Frank Cifaldi  37:34

Right, but then something for the Atari, like, you’re going for the full library.  You’re not going for the ones that Atari made specifically.  So, like, this has to be nearly impossible for some of these publishers that literally released one game and there’s no information about them on the internet.

Kelsey Lewin  37:51

Right!

Kevin Bunch  37:53

Yeah, I feel like at that point, it’s just going to be putting together any scraps that exist and just putting it out there.  I think the one that springs to mind first of all is Air Raid. 

Kelsey Lewin  38:10

Yeah. 

Kevin Bunch  38:11

Which, you know, there’s only a handful of copies of it.  They seem to only have been sold in, like, Southern California.  And I think some years ago, someone tracked it down to a specific family-owned store and they were gonna sell their own Atari Games, and they manufactured a handful of these before they decided not to.

Frank Cifaldi  38:33

Well, and like the the I remember the box copy of air raid was purchased from a Tuesday Morning store.  And Tuesday Morning is kind of like a fancier or Big Lots in that they buy deadstock.  Like, it might not have even technically been a retail game!

Kevin Bunch  38:50

Yeah.  Or Extra Terrestrials, up in Ontario, which came out in early ’84.  And they basically had to sell it door-to-door because retailers didn’t want to stock a new Atari game.

Kelsey Lewin  39:02

I mean, there’s so many of these things that were catalog-order only, too, where they were maybe never on a shelf anywhere, not even at a local mom and pop.  They might have just been a guy in his garage.

Frank Cifaldi  39:17

Birthday Mania comes to mind for me with that.

Kevin Bunch  39:20

Yeah, really surprised that recently someone was able to track down the guy who made Birthday Mania.  And based on what he told them, they where they were able to track down the newspaper ad he ran for the game.

Kelsey Lewin  39:33

Oh my God… 

Kevin Bunch  39:35

And then they rebuilt the game using the source code listing that was at the copyright office. 

Frank Cifaldi  39:41

Right!  Yeah, that that’s my favorite!  That’s, like, one of my favorite things to ever happen, is rebuilding a game from the copyright submission source code, because it probably was small enough to be printed and sent there.  It’s probably a 2k game, so yeah.

Kevin Bunch  39:59

Yeah, I mean, that’s sort of what happens with a lot of early film preservation now, I guess.  The Library of Congress has a lot of these on a paper film and they just are able to run it through and digitize it and, “Look, it’s a movie from 1909!”

Frank Cifaldi  40:15

Right, yeah, and the paper film was submitted just to protect the film’s copyright.  They weren’t running paper film in theaters or whatever, the paper was just the cheap print, like…  It would be like recording your YouTube video on a VCR or something, you know?  It’s just the cheap thing they can do.

Kevin Bunch  40:34

Yeah, and then the labels fell off of these cans, so the copyright office never got rid of them once the copyrights ran out…

Frank Cifaldi  40:42

Right, and that’s why these things survive.  And it’s just, I love that the entirety of Birthday Mania was just in the copyright and could be retrieved and rebuilt.  And it’s just… I’ve talked for years about how one of my not-so-secret goals is to turn the Library of Congress into a source code repository.  And it’s like, that’s kind of a vision of the future, is Birthday Mania!

Kevin Bunch  41:08

Yeah, it’s beautiful.  I know a month or so ago, someone rebuilt from the printed source code of the RCA Studio IV BASIC program which… The Studio IV is a game system that never existed.  It was a prototype, and then it just got dropped.  But they wrote BASIC for the thing and RCA, for whatever reason, printed it up in a manual that – as it turned out – was at the Hegley Library in Delaware.  And I was able to go there and take pictures of the whole thing and someone who, you know, Marcel van Tongeren (I think is his name, how you pronounce his name), but he does the Emma 02 emulator, and he rebuilt BASIC for the Studio IV using that code listing.  

Kelsey Lewin  42:00

Oh my God…

Kevin Bunch  42:01

So now you can download the newest version of his emulator and program your own basic programs for a dead system, I guess.  [Laughter] That stuff is so fun and so cool.

Frank Cifaldi  42:16

I wanted to go back to the Atari Archive project. Were there any titles that were just particularly challenging to do a whole episode about?

Kevin Bunch  42:30

So, Basic Math comes to mind, which is why it’s such a short video.  Because the author for that has never talked to anyone.  He has a super-common name, so I couldn’t track him down.  There’s not a whole lot of information about it.  So it’s just like, “Well, it’s a math game.  It’s a lot like these other math games.  I guess we’re good here.” There’s one I’m working on right now that’s kind of a pain for different reasons, and that is Bridge, which is a video game rendition of the card game, Bridge–

Frank Cifaldi  43:05

Right.

Kevin Bunch  43:06

–Which I don’t know how to play because I’m not 50 and the instruction manual for it doesn’t tell you how to play it because the author just assumed you already knew how to play Bridge. 

Frank Cifaldi  43:18

Right, why would you buy this game?  The owner for Bridge on the Atari is surely a bridge player. [laughter]

Kevin Bunch  43:26

Yeah, like, it makes sense…  but it’s it’s a pain in the ass.  So I’m not sure how that’s going to come together, exactly.  Maybe I’ll have a breakthrough and I’ll finally figure out what I’m doing in there.

Frank Cifaldi  43:39

You got to learn Bridge, dude!  

Kevin Bunch  43:41

Yeah, I mean, I had to learn a couple of games by this point to actually do this series. Like, I had to learn Bulls and Cows, which I’m still terrible at.  Backgammon; I had no idea how to play Backgammon before I did this video for Backgammon.

Frank Cifaldi  44:02

Well, at least you don’t have to learn Japanese, you know? like you’re not doing the Famicom.

Kevin Bunch  44:08

Ah, you know… small miracles.

Frank Cifaldi  44:11

Although, Japanese would probably be a lot more useful in your life than Baccarat.

Kevin Bunch  44:18

Well, you know, I did have to cover Space Invaders, so that involved a lot of talking about the Japanese game, Space Invaders. 

Frank Cifaldi  44:28

Sure. 

Kevin Bunch  44:28

So if I could have read Japanese a little bit better that probably would have gone slightly more smoothly.

Kelsey Lewin  44:35

So I want to circle back to the release date thing a little bit.  We’ve talked a lot about how release dates are hard to find, but we haven’t really talked about the fact that sometimes there really weren’t release dates back then.  I mean, nowadays everything is kind of timed and it’s like, “OK, this is going to come out simultaneously to every retailer on the 13th,” or whatever.  Can you talk a little bit about how different that was back then and you know, what the release timeline was like?

Kevin Bunch  45:11

Yeah, I definitely can.  So basically, at the time of the release date, quote-unquote, is when product started shipping out of the warehouses to stores.  That doesn’t mean that they all started being sold at the same time in all of these stores, since that would depend entirely on the logistics of moving all of these cartridges around the country. So I can find ads for Space Invaders, for example, that ran in March 1980.  And some of the coverage talking to Atari executives, they’ll mention that this game came out in March 1980.  But even up into June and July, you can find ads that are like, “Just arrived: Space Invaders!”

Kelsey Lewin  46:00

“Coming Soon!” [laughter]

Kevin Bunch  46:01

It’s, you know… I know it came out months prior, but for the people in whatever-the-heck town, it hadn’t.  It had just showed up.  It’s kind of like when I was a kid, we waited months to get Super Mario Bros. 3 because it ostensibly shipped in February, but we didn’t see it until, like, June.

Kelsey Lewin  46:27

Yeah, can you imagine how much people would lose their minds if it operated like that today?  Like, everyone in LA is going to get the new Animal Crossing or whatever on this release date, and people in the Midwest?  You guys can get it two months from now.

Frank Cifaldi  46:47

You’d have people moving closer to distribution centers to get the games earlier.  Like, people would actually pick up and move if the gamer culture was like it is now, but that was the case.

Kelsey Lewin  46:59

I think you’re right.  So why do you think release dates are important for historians to know even when they’re kind of fluid and fuzzy like this?

Kevin Bunch  47:09

I think it’s important to know when these games came out so, on one hand, you can sort of see how the market developed and how these games may have influenced each other or not.  I think a good example there is: Basketball for the VCS came out a couple of months after Basketball came out for the Odyssey 2.  And they’re very different games.  The Odyssey 2 Basketball is kind of a mess.  But this gives you an opportunity to look at these two and say, “Oh, well, this is how they did this differently.”  And you can sort of see the decision process behind each of these, because neither of them had anything to go on before that point.  On the flip side, you can look at when Space Invaders came out for the VCS, it was a huge hit, based on a huge hit for the arcade.  And about a year or so later, you start seeing all of these other game systems publishing their own versions of Space Invaders.  And you can probably infer from that that, “Oh, they must have saw how much this was selling on the Atari system and thought, ‘well, we got to get in on that somehow!'”

Frank Cifaldi  48:31

Which then kind of tells you what the average development time might have been for these games.

Kevin Bunch  48:36

Yeah.  In a lot of these cases, from the people I’ve talked to, yeah: the average development time was six months, seven months.  And then you had manufacturing which was another two or three.  So you can sort of see that bear out with how these games came out.

Frank Cifaldi  48:54

Can you imagine working on – I don’t even remember the name, is it Space Zapper [Space Armada]? – like, the Intellivision Space Invaders?  Can you imagine that being your full time job for, like, six months?  Just slowly making this simple Space Invaders game work?

Kevin Bunch  49:14

Not only making it work, but trying to find your own way to spin it so it’s not a complete ripoff and there’s actually value to playing it?

Frank Cifaldi  49:22

Yeah, it’s like, their little antennas wiggle. Yeah, that’s…

Kevin Bunch  49:27

That actually was the biggest surprise to me, doing that video, was all the different tweaks to Space Invaders all these companies were doing to make it their own.  Like, Mattel’s version, they fired different kinds of projectiles at you.  And, you know, the Odyssey 2 one, there’s a whole lot going on with that game. It’s kind of weird. 

Frank Cifaldi  49:47

Well, that was even happening in the game centers, or whatever they were called?  The Invader Centers in Japan? 

Kevin Bunch  49:54

The Invader Houses! 

Frank Cifaldi  49:56

Invader Houses!  Yeah!  I remember just in my research that… So, SNK was one of the early official distributors of Space Invaders.  They made SNK cabinets but on-the-level  partnership with Taito, and they added just a little jingle that happens when you die.  And that became known in player circles as “Melody Invaders,” because it plays a melody!

Kevin Bunch  50:26

That game had such a fascinating distribution and, just, crash and burn. 

Frank Cifaldi  50:31

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.  I mean, that’s one of the stories that could be a documentary.  Tetris, I always thought as the perfect game documentary.  Not documentary, sorry, uh… Like, biopic, right?  And I always thought Tetris would be the perfect one – and they’re doing that – but I kind of think the Invader boom could be another really good movie.

Kevin Bunch  50:55

I was going to say, I have a whole 30-minute documentary on it on my YouTube folks can check out.  [Laughter] But with the release dates, too: one thing I thought was really interesting is that it gives you a sense of how alive platforms, and the market as a whole, were at different points in time.  And I’m thinking specifically ’84, ’85, ’86… Like, if you go by the popular culture view of it, there was just nothing.  Nothing was coming out in that three-year stint until Mario came and saved the day.  But you look at it, like… Coleco was still really trying to get the ColecoVision to keep making them money.  And, you know, Atari did, too, and a few other third parties.  There was a recognition that there was interest in these games and in new games.  There was just a lot of problems with retailers trying to clear out the glut of stock that they had to move for pennies on the dollar.

Frank Cifaldi  52:02

Yeah, I’m looking right now at your release list and it’s kind of blowing my mind that Atari put out Asterix in March of 1985 for the VCS.  It’s like, “What are you…?  Well, first of all, none of us know who Asterix is here in the States…” [laughter]

Kevin Bunch  52:20

Asterix and Obelix are just such like a pain for me because Computer Entertainer has Asterix listed as shipping out in, like, October ’83 which doesn’t make any sense to me because it’s based on Taz and was developed pretty much at the same time as Taz, but Taz didn’t come out until ’84.  And then the only advertising I can find for Asterix beyond that is from ’85.  So, like… what’s going on here,  Atari?  Where did these NTSC copies of Asterix come from?

Kelsey Lewin  52:57

Well, and also just looking at these release dates, just kind of scrolling through this entire list… You can see when it’s all together like this, you can really see the intensity with which it ramps up.  I mean, you have just a couple releases in ’77, and a couple and ’78 and ’79.  And then once you get to ’81, ’82, it’s just an absolute explosion of release dates.  And I’m sure this is not… I mean, there’s no such thing as a complete Atari list, right?  Because there’s so many freaking releases that are maybe not normal retail.  But just the visual is really interesting that you can see how quick it ramps up after, you know, 1980.

Kevin Bunch  53:45

Yeah, I think it’s very fun that you can see the boom on the market happening, and then the bust, in terms of just how the games come out.  It’s like, “OK, so around September 1982 up until about October 1983, it’s just a hot mess of things jostling for shelf space.”  And then it’s just flatlines.

Frank Cifaldi  54:11

Yeah, I’m going through this and it’s just kind of blowing my mind how many… I mean, it’s not a lot, but just that there was support for just about every console in 1985. [Laughter]

Kevin Bunch  54:24

To some degree or another.

Frank Cifaldi  54:26

Thunder Castle I think of is a classic and television game that came out October ’85. That came out at the same time the NES did.

Kevin Bunch  54:34

Yeah, and at that point, it was a mail-order game because INTV, which was selling the Intellivision at the time, hadn’t gotten its foot back into the door of retailers. 

Kelsey Lewin  54:44

Wow. 

Kevin Bunch  54:45

At least major retailers.  I’m sure, you know, the folks who did Video Game Update were able to get copies, but… 

Frank Cifaldi  54:53

So have you done the math on how long this is going to take, this project?  The Atari Archive? I haven’t because that would just horrify me. I do recognize that, as we get into the boom years, I’m probably going to have to cover a few games per video just so I don’t lose my mind.  I mean, Data Age throws out, like, five games at once.  Am I really going to go through all five Data Age game, one by one, without a whole lot to talk about differently between them?  Yeah, you can just have a Data Age episode, right? 

Kevin Bunch  55:30

Yeah, I can just go over all of them!  I almost ran into that a little bit with the first four Activision games because like, “OK, I got to talk about Activation’s founding and history with this first game. And the rest of these, I guess, are just, um… Guess we’re just talking about Dragster!”  So, you know, figuring it out, the format. But I’m going to guess it’s gonna be a long-term project.  I should probably put these up on Internet Archive at some point. 

Frank Cifaldi  56:02

Yeah, you should. 

Kevin Bunch  56:04

And that’s also part of the reason why I started doing the website.  Not just as a place to throw all of this release date information, but I figured I can write up articles based on the research I’ve done on these scripts.  And I can add in more details that I found out since I did these videos, because it’s a lot easier to update an article than it is to re-upload a video and all that jazz.

Kelsey Lewin  56:28

So your articles, are they meant to be companion pieces to the videos?  Or are they more like… Can you just read the article and get all the research?  Or should you take a look at both, if you’re interested?

Kevin Bunch  56:44

You can just read the article, really.  They’re sort of companion but really it’s just, I’m a writer and I like having this stuff down somewhere in a place that’s not beholden to Google’s whims.

Frank Cifaldi  56:58

So you’re kind of filling this niche in game history, this thing that no one else is doing. Is there any thing you’d like to see someone else take the reins on?

Kevin Bunch  57:14

So one thing I’d love to see more people working on is sort of the user side of these early games and, I guess, games into the ’80s and ’90s.  You know, how were people playing these games?  What did people think about these games?  A couple examples that springs to mind that I’ve ran into over the years: back in 2015, I was working at a newspaper.  And in the course of my release date research, I came across this local group called the Activision Addicts that, they did charity programs for a local Children’s Hospital.  Like, they got all these game publishers to donate cartridges and game consoles and they brought them on down.  They had a whole event for the kids. They did this a few years.  And one of the guys was still in the area, so I sat him down and I talked with him about this whole thing and how it came about.  And that was really cool!  And that’s sort of an aspect of this kind of history you don’t see as much of.  Or I’m thinking of Cat DeSpira’s article a couple years ago, looking at how people played Pac-Man machines and how–

Frank Cifaldi  58:34

–Was held on the side, right? 

Kevin Bunch  58:35

Yeah, like to worn-off paint.  And now every time I see a Pac-Man machine, I look for that worn-off paint.  I’m like, “Oh, well, this is a machine that people really loved!”

Frank Cifaldi  58:44

Yeah, that’s such a hard thing to research.  Like, you almost have to either have been there or just conduct a blanket of oral history, you know?  Like, “Did you play this game? Reach out to me!”  And it’s something that, the best way that we provide that at the Foundation is just trying to make sure that if a review exists, that we have it, because that at least gives you critical consensus which – if you add them all – up might sort of approach what a player consensus might be.  But, you know, other than that, it’s really tricky.

Kevin Bunch  59:27

Yeah, and you could kind of get it from some local newspaper coverage.  I know those tend to talk to the retailers and the arcade operators, and –

Frank Cifaldi  59:39

Sometimes kids!  Sometimes it’ll just be like, “Here’s what my kid and his friend said.” 

Kevin Bunch  59:44

Yeah, so that’s a resource that’s pretty interesting.  For scenes that have been around a long time, like fighting game scenes for a given area, there’s probably people there who know people who were there previously, and such and such all the way back into the ’90s.  So you can get a good history of people over the long run.  And I know some of those folks can tell you all about what arcades were like in the ’80s and ’90s, and what games were popular, etc.

Kelsey Lewin  1:00:19

And another difficult thing just about getting oral histories from people who were there and the ones playing and experiencing this stuff is that no matter what, it’s going to skew in the direction of the people who these games actually had an impact on.  So you’re going to get sort of a biased answer.  Like, if someone clearly remembers their time playing X game, has a ton of memories of it and can speak to it, they’re probably more than your average fan.  

Kevin Bunch  1:00:53

Yeah.

Kelsey Lewin  1:00:54

I mean, especially if you’re looking 30+ years ago, right?  There were probably a ton of games that I played arcades or the McDonald’s play area, or whatever, that I don’t really have any memory of.  So whatever you’re able to get out of those people is going to skew pretty heavily in the direction of people who were really affected, or were super-fans of that one game.

Kevin Bunch  1:01:19

Yeah, and talking to old distributors or retailers or arcade operators, those people tend to have their own perspectives, too.  You find people to tell you, “Oh, yeah, this is what did really well for us at that point and here’s sort of a general memory of what I recall being interested in.”  I remember talking to a retailer – I think in Indiana? – who was one of the last people still selling Astrocade stuff in the area.  So I got to email back and forth with him a little bit about, “OK, well, what do you remember about this?  What was popular?”  And he was able to tell me some interesting stuff that will hopefully make it into a video at some point.  But yeah, it’s difficult.  Maybe in 40 years someone will ask you, “What was popular at your store?”

Kelsey Lewin  1:02:15

Should I start writing that down? I can generate reports.  I can be like, “Well, this is what sold really well…”

Kevin Bunch  1:02:25

Yeah, future historians need that information.  

Frank Cifaldi  1:02:28

Well, you have some of the only data on what people are seeking in terms of retro imports at this time.

Kelsey Lewin  1:02:39

Yeah. That’s true.  But I mean, even for someone like me, the reports I can generate are pretty good data, but they don’t take into consideration, like… I mean, I probably have a ton of customers who would like a copy of Mother 3 on the Game Boy Advance, but I don’t have an infinite supply of Mother 3 on the Japanese Game Boy Advance.  So my sales data is probably only going to show that a couple have sold over the last year.  But if I had an infinite supply, maybe it would have been a hundred, you know? 

Kevin Bunch  1:03:15

Right. 

Kelsey Lewin  1:03:17

So even hard data isn’t always good!

Kevin Bunch  1:03:21

Yeah, I’m really impressed by the people who dig in through Usenet and forum posts from the ’90s or whatever that are trying to get impressions on new games and game sales.  Because that seems like a different kind of nightmare than the one I’ve made for myself, but…

Kelsey Lewin  1:03:41

It’s so much more subjective nightmare, I feel like.  It’s hard to code all of those like feelings and attitudes and say like, “OK, well, if I sum these all up is this an accurate representation of what people were thinking or saying about this game?”

Kevin Bunch  1:04:02

Whereas, you know, I get to talk about what David Ahl and Bill Kunkel and, you know, Dick Cohen thought about these games.

Frank Cifaldi  1:04:10

And I’m sure their writing was much more thoughtful than than a Usenet user in the late ’90s as well, yeah. Kevin, thank you so much for joining us on the Video Game History Hour!  Is there anything last-minute you want to bring up that we didn’t cover or anything you want to plug?

Kevin Bunch  1:04:33

Yeah, I will plug… you can go to my YouTube channel, which is youtube.com/AtariArchive. You can go to the website, Atari archive.org. There’s no s in there.  That’s a different website I discovered after I made this one.  And my Twitter is @UberSaurus, which… very old, high school in-joke.  We’ve all been there.  And I do have a Patreon, patreon.com/AtariArchives.  So, if you like what I’m doing you can feel free to pay me for it.  You’ll get videos a week in advance.

Frank Cifaldi  1:05:14

Right on. And if you’re interested in Kevin’s chickens, the Video Game History Foundation Discord has an exclusive channel just for pictures of Kevin’s chickens.  So check that out on our website, in our Patreon.  Well, Happy New Year to everyone listening, and also to those present here.  And we hope to hear from you all again next year.

Kevin Bunch  1:05:45

Thank you for having me!

Kelsey Lewin  1:05:46

Thanks for listening to the Video Game History Hour, brought to you by the Video Game History Foundation.  If you have questions or comments for the show, you can find us on Twitter @GameHistoryHour or email us at Podcast@GameHistory.org.  Did you know the Video Game History Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and that all of your contributions are tax deductible?  You can support this podcast and all of our other work on Patreon or at GameHistory.org/Donate.  This episode of the Video Game History Hour was produced by Robin Kunimune and edited by Michael Carrell.  Thanks so much for listening and we’ll see you next time!