The 1983 Video Game Crash

In 1983, the video game industry almost died in North America.


Back in the 80s, video games were very popular. To play the latest and greatest meant driving or taking a bicycle to the local arcade or paying $200 for a home console. The most popular home console at the time came into homes in 1977 with the release of the Atari Video Computer System, otherwise known as the Atari 2600. Atari at that time was part of Warner Communications.

The Atari 2600 had all the popular titles such as Space Invaders and was unable to make cartridges quickly enough to meet demand. Around that time, Atari figuratively had a license to print money.

However, when you have a burgeoning industry where there are millions of dollars up for grabs, you eventually end up with competitors wanting a piece of the pie and Atari had no shortage of competition: Fairchild Channel F, Vectrex, Magnavox Odyssey II, Mattel Intellivision, Bally Astrocade, and Colecovison. Also compounding this was that there was no control over third-party developers. These were companies not directly tied to any one company, meaning that they could create game software for any system without any quality control or say from the manufacturer of the home console. This flooded the marked with many poor to mediocre titles.

From 1981 to 1982 the amount of software doubled and doubled again in 1983. There was the perfect storm of too many choices, too much software of dubious quality (to say the least), and retailers that did not have enough room for it all, and eventually the revenue started dropping.

The arcade game Pac-Man was enormously popular and Atari had the exclusive rights to produce the game on the Atari 2600. Unfortunately, the game was rushed and the game was considered incredibly poor and customers were unhappy with Atari as the reality did not meet their expectations. Atari also released an atrocious game based off the E.T. movie which was rushed for a Christmas release. Several high-profile blunders and consumers had lost confidence in Atari.

The games did not sell, and Atari ended up taking over half a billion dollars in losses due to a combination of bad games, oversaturation, too much customer choice and old-fashioned corporate greed. Warner Communications, in the end, decided to sell Atari.
Unsold Atari cartridges ended up buried in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico 1984. Thought to be the stuff of urban legend, it was later confirmed in 2014.
Due to the crash, future manufacturers such as Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have put protections in place to prevent unauthorized software on their game consoles, and stricter quality checks. The North American video game crash of 1983 changed the industry for the better, in the long run, making the market more robust than ever.

By Chris Murdock

Chris Murdock
Chris Murdock is a riddle wrapped in an enigma brought to you by patented space-age technology and electrons. He also likes video games, board games, and anime and is capable of giving off strong geek radiation burns. He also makes a mean chili and a nicely spicy Jamaican jerk chicken.
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Nintendo: Before Video Games

Back in 1985, Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System. At this time, Nintendo was not relatively well known outside of Japan, let alone outside of your darkened neighborhood arcade. However, would it surprise you to learn that Nintendo was also in the business of toys, board games, a taxi company, selling instant rice, and a chain of love hotels (a distinctly Japanese-creation, it is a short-stay hotel set up to allow guests privacy for making love)? They are also one of the oldest producers of playing cards in the world. In fact, Nintendo is over 100 years old.


Nintendo started as a small company out of Kyoto, Japan in 1889. The produced Hanafuda playing cards (Hanafuda is a deck of 48 cards used to play various card games). In 1959, Nintendo made a deal with Disney to produce cards with popular Disney characters on them, and these cards were very popular. Due to the success, Nintendo has a bit of an identity crisis, experimenting with the aforementioned taxi service, instant rice, and even a vacuum cleaner. However, in the late 60s and early 70s, Nintendo was struggling.

At this time, Nintendo was struggling in the toy business. One of their engineers Gunpei Yokoi (1941-1997) created the Ultra Hand, a toy that could extend to pick up ball-like objects. It sold over one million units and saved the company from financial disaster. Yokoi developed other toys such as a baseball-throwing machine called the Ultra Machine, and a Love Tester.

In 1972, Nintendo secured the rights to distribute the first commercially available video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan. During this time they would experiment with the video game marked with devices such as the Pong-clone console Color TV-Game 6 and the Game & Watch series of small electronic LCD games. Nintendo would continue down this path until the development of the Famicom in 1983, which is the Japanese version of the now iconic Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It would be a while before Nintendo brought the NES to the United States, but that was due to not understanding the full American Market, but also the Video Game Crash of 1983 had taken out Atari and the majority of their competition, making retailers wary of bringing in more video game hardware and software.

Nevertheless, Nintendo did succeed and are now one of the largest video game manufacturers in the world. All of this from humble beginnings as a playing card company.

By Chris Murdock

Chris Murdock
Chris Murdock is a riddle wrapped in an enigma brought to you by patented space-age technology and electrons. He also likes video games, board games, and anime and is capable of giving off strong geek radiation burns. He also makes a mean chili and a nicely spicy Jamaican jerk chicken.

‘Flash Gordon’s Sam Jones goes beyond entertainment

The line for actor Sam Jones was long at the recent Colorado Springs Comic Con Aug. 25-27, 2017. Fans brought everything from photos to footballs for the “Flash Gordon” star to sign, while grabbing the chance to chat. Best known of course for the iconic 80s film, Jones has recently caught the attention of a whole new generation of fans with his role in the “Ted” films. Catch up with the former US Marine and recipient of entertainment, civic, and humanitarian awards.

"Flash Gordon" actor Sam Jones, credit to YouTube

Colleen Bement: What do you love the most about coming to comic cons?

 
Sam Jones: It’s amazing how comic cons have evolved. Years ago there were one or two in a banquet hall in a hotel, now they’re just unbelievable. I love it for three reasons: Number one is to please the fans, number two to please the promoter, and number three, to be honest, is to generate enough revenue as possible for me and my family. What’s cool about it is I did four movies last year, two this year, but I would still be doing these because it’s the weekend. I’m with my family from Monday to Thursday, and I’m gone from Friday to Sunday–isn’t that amazing? Of cour, e I get to hear the fans stores. I get to hear the impact in his or her life, and sometimes it goes beyond entertainment to life-changing. A year old man, his wife, and kids come up to the table- I’m tearful-I get emotional, and I’m a former Marine. He said when he was 12 years old and he came from a dysfunctional family. One day he went into his bedroom to take his life and this voice said oh, put that VHS of that “Flash Gordon” hero back in the VCR. And the guy said Sam, I saw that movie again and it not only gave me hope, it gave me value to live! I was like oh my God, that takes it beyond entertainment. Isn’t that amazing? So obviously the more cities I travel, I hear them. I’m looking at this 40-year-old man and his wife and his kids; they are completely non-existent had he not listened to that voice and put that tape on. That takes it beyond the entertainment world and the nonsense of Hollywood, doesn’t it?

'Flash Gordon's Sam Jones goes beyond entertainment
Photo credit to Colorado Springs Comic Con

CB: Wow, no kidding! OK, let’s talk about “Ted”

 
SJ: You know there are a lot of actors and here are the statistics: 97 percent of all actors can’t pay their bills off a movie. They have to have a secondary income. Three percent of all actors pay their bills on movies only. So unless you’re a bankable name like the Denzels, the Kevin Costner’s, and all the great actors, it’s a blessing to get that job. What “Ted” did for me was bring in the new age of my children’s children age. It introduced to the younger kids who have not seen “Flash Gordon,” and they say, you know that movie that Queen did the soundtrack to? That’s really cool!

DiNK Denver artist applications closing out October 1st

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Calling all artists, DiNK (the Denver Independent Comic and Art Expo) has just one week left before the artist application window closes Oct. 1, 2018. It is free to apply and the talent can display a wide range of creativity from comics to zine making, illustration, publishing, street and graffiti art, and so much more. As always, the third annual event is a celebration of independent artists, writers, zine makers, and publishers from around the world. Again this year, Dink has made its home at the McNichols Civic Center Building in Downtown Denver and will take place Apr. 14-15, 2018.


Walking the floors of the Denver Independent Comic and Art Expo is like exploring through pure creativity. It is all about the energy and enthusiasm of the incredible up and coming talent, as well as the impressive list of comic creators and graphic novelists that attend every year.
All this joy is for a good cause. Park of DINK’s mission is to foster the next generation of artists. Tickets purchased to benefit the non-profit pilot program Camp Comic Book at the beautiful Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO. This cool program puts on an outdoor mountain camp that focuses on comics and literacy for inner-city youth. Loyalty tickets go on sale Oct. 2, 2017. For more information and tickets visit DiNK’s website.

Interview with ‘Extinct’ star Chad Michael Collins

Chad Michael Collin, photo credit to Sonalii Castillo

Chad Michael Collins chats about one of his all-time favorite roles as Gerhart Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s Monster in “Once Upon a Time.” Of course, he is loved for his badass character of Sgt. Brandon Beckett across the Sony Pictures “Sniper” films he plays alongside Tom Berenger, Billy Zane, and Dennis Haysbert. Collins has had guest spots in favorite shows like “Castle,” “NCIS,” “Bones,” and “Blue Bloods”. Now he can be seen in BYUtv’s new series “Extinct” that premieres Oct. 1, 2017 on BYUtv. Collins stars in the sci-fi action-adventure series about restoring human civilization after humanity was wiped out by an alien invasion. Get to know a fellow geek who happens to play World of Warcraft and Magic: the Gathering.

Colleen Bement: Tell us all about your very cool new series on BYUtv called “Extinct.” What can you share?

Chad Michael Collins: It is very cool, agreed! “Extinct” is a new sci-fi action-adventure series premiering October 1st on BYUtv. The main question it poses is: If the human race became extinct, what would you do with a second chance? The series takes us 400 years into the future after an alien invasion wipes out humanity, and the story follows several humans who get reconstituted, or “reborn” by a seemingly benevolent alien species. The small band of reborns find themselves on an Earth that is at once familiar and a strange new world, and they journey together to restore human civilization while also wrestling with memories of their past, trying to survive in the present, and holding out hope for their future. The show itself is an amazing mix of primitive and medieval but also futuristic and advanced, as it brings together alien technology with a feudal mix of costumes and weaponry.

Chad Michael Collin, photo credit to Sonalii Castillo

CB: You’re so well known for your role as Sgt. Brandon Beckett from the “Sniper” films. What is it like to be known for such a badass and amazing character?

CMC: Anytime I can be associated with being “badass” and “amazing,” I’ll take it! But yes, it has been a blast playing ‘Brandon’ across four “Sniper” films now, with our latest “Sniper: Ultimate Kill” out on October 3rd. I think this is the most complete ‘Brandon’ we’ve seen so far, as there is plenty of “badass” that he brings to the action, but you also see a lot of different shades to his character as well. He’s wrestling with the psychological toll that comes with killing an endless amount of bad guys for the greater good. He’s also trying to figure out the dynamic between himself and his father, original “Sniper” star Tom Berenger. Plus, he finds himself partnered up with a very determined DEA agent in Danay Garcia’s Kate Estrada with whom he doesn’t always see eye-to-eye. Take all of this and add in the fact that he’s doing urban warfare in Bogota, Colombia, and we find him a bit out of his element across the board. Oh, and also: Billy Zane. He’s back in the fold in this one too, and that’s worth mentioning!

Chad Michael Collin, photo credit to Sonalii Castillo

CB: My readers would love to hear about your experiences on the set of “Once Upon a Time” and “Castle.”

CMC: Well, I have nothing but great things to say about both experiences: I’ve loved being a part of the ABC family! “Once Upon a Time” was truly fun, as I got to work in Vancouver playing the great David Anders’ kid brother Gerhart Frankenstein, an earnest and honorable young man following in the footsteps of his military general father. After big bro gets me killed, however, the fun really began. Usually at 5 am to get started on the three hours of makeup, airbrushing and special FX it required to turn me into a dead guy, aka ‘Frankenstein’s Monster.’ It is still one of my all-time favorite roles I’ve played to this day, and it’s been such a pleasure getting to know and interact with the lovely “Oncer” community at conventions and online.

“Castle” was also a nice experience, working with Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. It was brief though, as I just shot for a day, and mostly in a hospital bed. Laying down on the job, now that just speaks to me! But both Nathan and Stana were lovely and accommodating, and I had actually met Nathan a couple times before through mutual friends. He’s as charming and witty offset as you’d imagine him to be. I’m a big fan of “Firefly” and to this day!

CB: I read that you’re into MMA. In what martial arts do you train?

CMC: Well, being into it and actually being able to do it are two very different things! But yes, I’ve always been a fan of boxing and MMA, the UFC in particular. I used to do a little kickboxing, a little Muay Thai, but mostly for the workout and just for the fun. It’s incredibly challenging but engaging, and there’s hardly a better way to get fit. I guess at some point I was good enough to tough my way through a big guest starring role on “CSI: Miami” as a champion cage fighter, where we did two straight days of shooting MMA fight choreography. I might still have the bruises to show for it! But in general, I still like to take some boxing classes here and there when I’m in town, mostly with a former fighter and actor named Grant Sullivan. I’m by no means an expert, but I’d say I’m decently proficient; unless someone who was truly proficient started throwing leather at me. Then I’d be exposed as a fraud for sure.

CB: Do you have any “hidden talents” that you can share with your fans?

CMC: Hmmm…hidden talents. I’m not sure that I do, honestly. I’m a guy who’s generally like a Swiss Army knife – I can do a lot of things decently enough, but I’m a master of none. I’m not as sexy as a machete or a longsword, but I’m practical and get by with most things I attempt. But, strange blade analogies aside, I think that some of my “hidden talents” might stem from my geeky side: I used to be an ace World of Warcraft player, and I’ve been playing Magic: the Gathering on and off since the late 90s. I’d definitely declare myself “above average” at both if I’m going to toot my own horn!

Get to know talented young ‘The Walking Dead’ actress Kyla Kenedy

Kyla Kenedy at Colorado Springs Comic Con
Kyla Kenedy at Colorado Springs Comic Con

Kyla Kenedy enjoyed her time meeting her fans at the recent Colorado Springs Comic Con Aug. 25-27, 2017. The talented young star was actually called in for a different role and was actually cast as Mika who was originally supposed to be a boy. Born in Charleston, SC Kenedy is well known for her role as Mika in “The Walking Dead” and Dylan in creative comedy series “Speechless.” She can also be seen playing Brianna on the show “The Night Shift.”

Kyla Kenedy on 'Speechless,' photo credit to YouTube
Kyla Kenedy on ‘Speechless,’ photo credit to YouTube

Colleen Bement: You are completely hilarious in “Speechless.” How as your experience been?

Kyla Kenedy: We’re starting our second season now and it airs September 27th. It’s different. It’s a really fun show. They aren’t afraid to do anything. I get to work with so many amazing people, and I’m learning so many things. It’s such a great project to be a part of.

CB: Have you had any scenes that you have found difficult or challenging?

KK: Not necessarily challenging. I feel like with each scene as an actor you kind of get to play around with it and figure out how you think your character would do the scene. It is definitely fun. The more intense scenes I kind of find more fun just because I get to mess around with it a little bit more.

CB: What got you started in acting?

KK: Since I was about eight. I’ve always wanted to do it. I always love getting to be different people and kind of explore everything. I’m the type of person who is very indecisive, so I love to do one thing one minute, and in acting, I can kind of embody anybody and just do anything.

CB: What can you share about your role in “The Night Shift,” and do you have any other projects in the works?

KK: I’ve been doing that for about two years now. It’s really fun. Everyone there is amazing and it’s a great storyline and I’m happy to be a part of it.

‘Star Wars’ Colin Cantwell shares how the Death Star was created

 

‘Star Wars’ fans were lucky to meet the original creator of the Death Star at the recent Colorado Springs Comic Con Aug. 25-27, 2017. Colin Cantwell designed and built the original Death Star as well as the Millennium Falcon, the X-Wing and Y-Wing, the TIE Fighter, the Star Destroyer, and the Sand Crawler. These creations live on in pop culture history, and Cantwell was excited to share what it was like to work with George Lucas and to build one of the most iconic models in history.

Death Star creator Colin Cantwell, photo credit to Colorado Springs Comic Con
Colleen Bement: Tell us all how you built the Death Star.

 
Colin Cantwell: The Death Star was made up of spherical parts that were going to be twins. The only problem was that I only had one. One-half of a sphere didn’t make much of a Death Star! It was quite a while that I was waiting for that piece. I had to experiment on the outside of the spherical half-sphere and worked to solve all the problems that I needed to. It was a couple of months before I did another run on the sphere; then that run happened, and suddenly I had to halves. That was wonderful, with one exception: The equator on those was a little too tough on the plastic edge of the mold. the two halves couldn’t quite come together. So, I decided to call George (Lucas). I said hey George, I’ve got a little idea that would be quite a change. What if it (Death Star) had a trench that went all the way around the equator. What if the bad guys fly down the trench, and the good guys would be dodging batteries along the sides. George said I’ll get back to you, and sure enough, he did; pretty quick! He said you know that trench around the Death Star? That’s really what we need to do. He asked me if I could do the extra work, and I told him, I could do that!
…and the rest was history!