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Easy to Learn, Hard to Master

Posted on August 21st, 2019

Dave!With the new television season a month away, I'm in an odd position of having very little television to watch. Since I like background noise while I work, this means I've been re-watching shows I like or checking off shows and movies I've been meaning to watch but haven't gotten around to.

One of these being Easy to Learn, Hard to Master: The Fate of Atari which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime...

Easy to Learn, Hard to Master movie poster featuring a graphical spaceship with lasers coming out of the bottom.

This was not the first movie which chronicled the downfall of my video-gaming childhood... there was Atari: Game Over which came out three years before... but Easy to Learn, Hard to Master was the one which had the most interesting assortment of talking heads discussing the rise and fall of Atari in the video game arena. Nolan Bushnell, Al Alcorn, Howard Warshaw, Steve Wozniak, David Crane, and more were all interviewed. It also included insight from Manny Gerard and Ray Kassar from the Warner side of the disaster.

The movie was a good watch, even though I didn't learn anything astonishingly new. Atari's meteoric rise and fall has been commentary fodder for decades and is well-known. It did, however, get me thinking about the whole video game revolution that was my childhood. Along with comic books, the Atari 2600 was probably the most important part of my childhood...

The Atari 2600 Video Game System with controllers!

As I've mentioned before, I coveted the thing from the minute I was aware that it existed. I think it was being sold at Sears, and my non-stop begging eventually wore my parents down. I finally got one for my birthday or for Christmas or something. And from that moment onward... I was playing video games, saving my money for video games, and begging for new video games at every turn.

I amassed quite a collection.*

Well, not really... I managed to get 32 of the 532 games that were available in North America.

Which brings me to my next movie: Nintendo Quest...

Nintendo Quest Movie Poster featuring two guys in a van hopping around North America with NES cartridges flying everywhere.

In this movie, a guy named Jay Bartlett attempted to collect all 687 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games that were released in North America... in 30 days... but without using the internet. Nope, he drove around northern North America trying to find them.

To be honest, I was more than a little bored throughout it. The actual collecting didn't have much going on. It was the stuff in-between than made it worth watching. And remembering back to so many of those awesome NES games!

And my last video game movie? A "mocumentary" film that was clearly trying to be the This Is Spinal Tap for video games called Going for Golden Eye...

Going for Golden Eye Movie Poster featuring video gamers ready for action!

While nowhere near the level of This is Spinal Tap, I thought it was a pretty good effort. It definitely had some funny moments to make it all worthwhile.

And I think I've had my fill of video game movies for a while.

Until the next one comes along, I'd imagine.

   
*And here's the Atari 2600 titles I ended up collecting...

  • Air-Sea Battle
  • Combat
  • Indy 500
  • Star Ship
  • Basketball
  • Breakout
  • Casino
  • Night Driver
  • Superman
  • Bowling
  • Adventure
  • Circus
  • Dodge 'Em
  • Space Invaders
  • Asteroids
  • Missile Command
  • Warlords
  • Bezerk
  • Centipede
  • Defender
  • Haunted House
  • Pac-Man

Third Party Games...

  • Skiing
  • Freeway
  • Kaboom!
  • Stampede
  • Atlantis
  • Chopper Command
  • Demon Attack
  • Frogger
  • Pitfall!
  • River Raid

   

Sears

Posted on May 1st, 2013

Dave!Our local Sears store is closing.

I am not entirely surprised by the news, but I am a bit saddened. For the longest time during my childhood, Sears was the place to shop in our valley. There wasn't much competition, and the internet wasn't a Thing yet, so you went to Sears. My first computer, an Atari 800, was bought at that Sears. All the software I saved my allowance to buy came from Sears (mostly INFOCOM games like Zork). Appliances and tools all came from Sears. Clothing came from Sears too. And if there was something Sears didn't have that you needed, you could order it from their catalog.

So yeah, I have fond memories of Sears and it seems strange to think about it closing.

I haven't shopped there in years, of course.

The last thing I bought at Sears was a Kenmore washer and dryer... or maybe it was some Craftsman tools... but that was at least a decade ago. I feel bad about that, but they just don't have anything I want to buy. Not any more...

Atari 800 Illustration
   
I drew this Atari 800 for the cover of Kevin Savetz's terrific book, Terrible Nerd!

   
And now I think I'll have a beer and reminisce about the good ol' days when I was a kid and the Sears Christmas Catalog was my world.

Much like Apple.com is now.

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