In a BAFTA Q&A session, the Pongfather dismissed online gaming as “not cool.”
During the session held in London to promote Bushnell’s upcoming uWink concept, someone asked the Atari founder what he thought about network gaming and its potential. Bushnell pooh-poohed the concept, describing it as “stilted and flat,” and maintained that true social gaming required face-to-face contact, playing against another person in the same room as you.
“Social is buying someone a drink,” Bushnell argued. “Sitting in a dark room in your underpants talking to thousands of people might seem social, but it’s not cool. The public space is always going to be here.”
Bushnell compared gaming to alcohol, saying that the reason a martini cost more at a bar than to make it oneself was because there were actual people at a bar. Of course, Bushnell neglected to mention that a martini also costs more at a bar because the bar has overhead expenses – lighting bills, wages to pay – that it needs to recoup.
uWink, Bushnell’s latest venture, is effectively a cross between a restaurant and an arcade, where people can play games at interactive stations at tables – all the while enjoying a tasty meal. It’s no wonder, then, that the gaming pioneer is trying to criticize what could be a potentially huge threat to said venture: Gamers can play each other without leaving their rooms if they choose.
Sure, the man might have a BAFTA Fellowship, but he’s wrong about one thing at least – sometimes, I don’t even wear pants while gaming online.