– I still games play every day

Spillhistorie.no spoke with Atari-legend Nolan Bushnell.

When we’re talking about video games, few names are as legendary as Nolan Bushnell. Together with Ted Dabney, he created the first arcade video game, Computer Space, in 1971. Later, the pair formed Atari, and thanks to the success of Pong they established an entire industry of arcade video games.

Nolan Bushnell i 2013. Bilde: Tech Cocktail (CC BY-SA 2.0).
Nolan Bushnell in 2013. Photo: Tech Cocktail (CC BY-SA 2.0).

In the same way, their Atari VCS was the first truly successful home console, and it’s virtually impossible to imagine how the history of computer and video games would have played out without Atari. Bushnell is, in other words, one of the most important individuals in the history of gaming.

Today, he’s 81 years old and still active in the games industry. Not only that, but he tells us that he still enjoys playing games:

– I still play and though I do not like first person shooters I still play puzzle games everyday on my phone or computer.

When asked which games he’s currently playing, he mentions Sudoku and Triple Match. But he’s also enjoying classic Atari games:

– I have a Polycade that has all the old games in Coin-op form. I love Asteroids and Centipede.

Likes the current Atari

Atari still exists, even though today’s version of the company isn’t really the same as the one Bushnell founded in the early seventies. But he still likes their direction:

– I’m very happy that Wade Rosen is now CEO of Atari. He’s an excellent executive directing the company in some interesting directions, and eager to preserve the company’s legacy.

Atari 2600. Bilde: Mats Lindh.
Atari 2600. Photo: Mats Lindh.

Bushnell tells us that he «like that idea of both preservation and updatingsome of the old tropes to current technologies.» He also finds the modern games industry «exciting and very diverse.»

Finally, we had to ask what he considers the most significant legacy of Atari:

– I think being the first always holds an important place in history. And Atari’s work environment was a game changer for Silicon Valley and is an important part of its history.

This interview was done by Joachim Froholt and Retrogamingpappa for Spillhistorie.no.

Spillhistorie.no is a Norwegian website mostly dedicated to indie-, niche- and retro games. If you liked this article, we have some more content in English.