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The Atari VCS: The domestication of videogames

Dr Kenny McAlpine discusses the birth of the Atari VCS, the console that brought video games from the arcades to the living room.

The Atari VCS was the machine that domesticated video games and established Atari as the dominant player in the gaming industry… at least for a time.

In this video, we’ll look at the birth of the VCS and examine how its hardware shaped both the sound and people’s expectations of video game music.

But the VCS wasn’t the only game in town.

Once you’ve completed the video step, what I’d like you to do is to spend a little time investigating the launch of the Atari. You can find some links to contemporary sources below that will help get you started.

What sort of gaming context was the console released into? What were its main competitors? Perhaps most importantly of all, why do you think that it succeeded when other consoles offered better graphics, better sound and better gameplay?

Please take the time to post your thoughts to the comments section, and spend a little time reading through the thoughts of others. What are the main themes that emerge? Can you see any parallels with other consumer devices? Video recorders, perhaps – consider how the technically superior Betamax format was overtaken by the more popular VHS – or later generations of consoles and computers?

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Video Game Design and Development: A Bit-by-Bit History of Video Game Music: Video Game Sound and Music

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