Bogost and Montfort 2009

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Bogost, Ian and Nick Montfort. Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2009.


"Serious and in-depth consideration of circuits, chips, peripherals, and how they are integrated and used is a largely unexplored territory for both critic and creator." (2)

"Whateverthe programmer takes for granted when developing, and whatever, from another side, the user is required toh ave working in order to use particular software, is the platform." (2-3)

Platforms are "layered" and "they related to modular components,such as optional controllers and cards" (3)

Adventure, first graphical adventure game, for Atari VCS (1978) -- invented idea of a game with a virtual space bigger than the screen (contra Pong, etc.)

Atari as "at least a seedbed for videogame genres, if not the forge in which many were formed" (6)

Connection to midway carnival games

"Those at Atari therefore sought to imitate some features of the nascent personal computer with a home console that used interchangeable cartridges, allowing the system to play many games. There would be an important difference from home computing, though: all of the cartridges for the system would be made by one company." (10-11)

"The engineers developing the Atari VCS needed to account for two goals— the ability to imitate existing successful games and some amount of ver- satility—as they designed the circuitry for a special-purpose microcomputer for video games." (12)

Price of console just above cost of it's manufacture ($199) -- betting on cartridge sales

"Strong relationship between the console and the television" (14)

Afterword on Platform Studies

5 levels that analysis of digital media have focused on:

Reception/operation -- reader-response, reception aesthetics, media effects

Interface -- HCI, literary criticism of interface, remediation

Form/function -- core of program, rules of game, cybertext studies, ludology

Code -- software studies, code aesthetics

Platform -- abstraction beneath code, platform studies

"A computational platform is not an alien machine, but a cultural artifact that is shaped by values and forces and which expresses views about the world, ranging from 'games are typically played by two players who may be of different ages and skill levels' to 'the wireless service provider, not the owner of the phone, determines what programs may be run.'" (148)