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Hands-On Gaming

"When Ralph Baer invented the home videogame way back in the late '60s, one of the first human interface devices he and his engineering team at Sanders Associates (which just so happened to be a military contractor) devised was a makeshift light-pistol. Not really anything more than a light "detector" with a handle, the pistol was used to select bright white squares against a black background in various test routines. It was then re-engineered to fit inside a toy rifle bought at a local department store, and was finally redesigned one last time as a pump-action shotgun accessory for the first ever videogame console released in 1972, the Magnavox Odyssey. Not only was the console a commercial success, but the high-priced rifle accessory also sold extremely well, shifting around 80,000 units during the console's lifespan."

Hands-On Gaming

"First called 'teledildonics' in the 1980s by Ted Nelson (the same man who coined the term Hypertext), the field of electronically-enhanced cybersex has more or less exploded in recent years. Encouraged by websites like Slashdong, outspoken columnists like Regina Lynn, online communities like Second Life and a number of singles-oriented web-based dating services (many of which offer 'have sex toy' as a profile checkbox), more and more people are trying (or perhaps admitting to trying) teledildos. To cover every available device would require more space than we have here. So I've narrowed it down to the most stimulating of the bunch, and invited a few of my colleagues to help me get a grip on the subject."

Best of The Escapist

Like any form of gaming, RPGs have odd conventions that only gamers know. John Walker decided to test these conventions on the streets of Bath, England, and provides some very entertaining results.

Best of The Escapist

From the founding of Origin to the rise of NCsoft in the western world, Richard and Robert Garriott have been at the forefront of the games industry since its inception. Shannon Drake and Julianne Greer sit down with the masterminds to discuss the future of online gaming.

Best of The Escapist

How does a small shop specializing in console games transform itself into a top-tier juggernaut PC developer? Russ Pitts looks at the rise of Blizzard Entertainment, and how their unique organization allowed them to create better games.

Best of The Escapist

Even if you don't shop there, or even live near one, the retail giant Wal-Mart has probably affected your life in some way. Allen Varney discusses the Wal-Mart Effect on the gaming industry, and how parts of the industry are trying to break free.

Best of The Escapist

A decade-long gamble might just save a small town. Justin McElroy tells us about TickStorm, and how they're planning on using their games to help the small town that they call home.

Best of The Escapist

Before Nintendo released their first home console system, their American branch was in the business of licensing games to other manufacturers. Spanner details a defining moment of Nintendo of America, its legal battle with Universal Studios over Donkey Kong.

Refrigerators to Eskimos ...

"People tell me you need to appeal to the lowest common denominator when marketing products. They tell me it's difficult to present the more ethereal elements of a game coherently. They tell me the poor market performance of games such as Beyond Good & Evil and Psychonauts means the industry will continue to focus on visual glitz, violence and sex appeal. But I feel this approach has done us a disservice. And by 'us' I mean all of us - from the developers and publishers who sweat over their game to the player who craves quality entertainment. The games we produce and enjoy are deeper, richer and more socially relevant than is being portrayed by our own marketing." Corvus Elrod looks at "Lowest Common Denominator Marketing."

Refrigerators to Eskimos ...

"The only thing worse than making a game with no hype, is making one that is overhyped. "Overhype" is when a player's vision of what a game will be far exceeds what a developer can possibly deliver. As a result of overhype, the game is judged more harshly than it otherwise might be." Dana Massey explores the fine line between hype and overhype.

Refrigerators to Eskimos ...

"Everybody thought feelies were cool. Yet as the game market moved to emphasize graphics and Infocom's star fell, feelies declined in originality and production values. George Collins, who ported games for Infocom in its latter days, recalls: 'Return to Zork, Activision's first Zork title after they bought Infocom, included an envelope with a letter that you won a sweepstakes [prize trip] to the Valley of the Sparrows. I think it was the last time Activision tried to do that Infocom thing. Only the first few editions had the actual letter.'" Allen Varney goes in search of the lost, little extras.

Refrigerators to Eskimos ...

"I try to be a responsible adult. I budget amounts for games and try to stay within that budget, but invariably I fall prey to marketing because I'm a simpleton." Shawn Williams chronicles his life as "A Marketing Love Slave."

Refrigerators to Eskimos ...

"Jack is what is called an 'Online Guerilla Marketer,' or 'OGM,' and his name isn't Jack. He's agreed to speak to The Escapist on the condition that we not identify him. Like an undercover cop or secret agent, Jack's effectiveness at his job depends on his ability to remain anonymous. He'll often spend days, even weeks, infiltrating a community to earn the trust of its members before he strikes - inserting a recommendation in the right place, at the right time to generate interest in the products he represents.

A typical day for Jack starts with checking 'to make sure I haven't been discovered,' he says."

Sixteen Ton - Whaddya Get?

"The BBS scene had two major commodities: pirated software (warez) and information. The newer the warez, the more valuable it was as a commodity. It was actually possible to obtain one- or two-day-old software that had already been stripped of its copy protection; we called breaking through a program's security 'cracking.' A person earned his 'elite' status by becoming the purveyor of the latest pirated software."

Guy Stevens wasn't always a stand-up game industry veteran. He describes the grayer side of game programming in "Back In the Day."

Sixteen Ton - Whaddya Get?

"'Designer' is the most sought-after position. These are the people who invent games. At their core, designers are responsible for making things fun. Yet, getting there requires a lot of tedium.
'I don't play the game all day long while I'm at work," said Jen Ortiz, a designer on EA Mythic's Dark Age of Camelot. 'Seriously, I'm usually [too] buried in Excel sheets, product quality reports, poll results, team lead reports, emails and document writing of my own to even look at the game at work.'"
Dana Massey chases the myth of game development as paradise in "Working in Games."