Monday, March 18, 2013

Big Changes Ahead for The Dot Eaters

Hello there.  I wanted to give anyone reading the blog and history articles a heads-up that we are in the throes of a redesign of the site.  The relaunch will be happening on May 1st, but there is a lead-time to get everything up and running.  To that effect, I have exported  the Blogger blog to the hosted TDE blog, and hence will not be making any further major updates to this one.

You can still keep tabs on us through our social media hooks, a la:



As for the redesign, you can expect a much better navigational scheme, and a much cleaner, more dynamic and just plain better-looking presentation of the content.  We will also be doing some giveaway contests when the site launches in May, so keep an eye out on those social media sites above for your opportunity to win some TDE swag.

To facilitate your winning of said loot, as well as receiving a heads-up when the new site (still goes live, you can hit our contact page through the link at the top of the screen, leave your email, and we'll give a shout out when it happens.

Thanks for reading the Blogger blog, and for continuing to relive video game history at our site throughout the 15 years of its existence.  Game on, people!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Amazon Opens Retro Game Store

Having long since moved on from just being a simple online bookseller, Amazon has gradually expanded to become the Wal-Mart of online businesses, shilling everything under the sun.  The company has recently made a move to become a one-stop shop for retro game collectors with their new Retro Gaming store.   From Atari to Zelda, mint boxed systems to boxes of motherboards, they seem to have it all.

If you want to skip the hassles of online auctions and relive your video game memories with quick, impulsive one-click purchases, check out the store here.

Source: MTV Multiplayer

Friday, March 8, 2013

Game On 2.0 Lands at the Ontario Science Centre

Coming across the pond from London, England is Game On 2.0,  an interactive exhibition featuring the history of video games.  Starting tomorrow, it will run at the Ontario Science Centre here in Toronto until Sept. 2.

The exhibit contains over 150 playable games from across 60 years of amusement gaming history.  Along with featuring a section of early video game standard-bearers such as PONG and Space Invaders, Game On also studies important game and system entries by genre, as well as taking a look at the creative process and  marketing side of gaming.  A look into the possible future of video games rounds out the exhibit.

This will be the first appearance of this exhibit in Canada, and looks to be a can't-miss proposition for aficionados of video game history, as well as for gamers in general.  Look for a more detailed review of  the show from TDE in the coming days.

Ontario Science Centre Game On page:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Just Say Yes, An 80's Drug Message Remixed

Reverberating throughout the 80's landscape of bleeping arcades and flashing colours of home video game consoles is Nancy Reagan's simplistic anti-drug slogan "Just Say No".  Every First Lady needs a bugaboo to pursue while the President rules in office, and Reagan's was youth drug use.  I'm not saying that trying to reduce drug abuse among youth is akin to merely chasing a boogeyman, but if you reduce your anti-drug campaign down to a catch-phrase, well then that's how the public is going to perceive it.  It no doubt went in one ear and out the other of kids impatiently waiting to drop a quarter into Dragon's Lair and Afterburner.

 On the evening of Sept 4th, 1986 Americans turned on their TVs and were visited by President Reagan and his wife Nancy, sitting on a couch in the West Hall of the White House, espousing the dangers of drugs to the nation's youth.  Known as the "Just Say No" speech,  it reverberated particularly fiercely a couple of years later inside the head of a man named Cliff Roth.

At the time Roth was teaching audio engineering at the Millennium Film Workshop in New York City, and gave his students an assignment to re-edit the audio track of the speech to reverse the message and have the Reagans espouse the benefits of drug use.  Subsequently getting ahold of a film reel of the speech, Cliff then took two years to painstakingly edit the visuals to the joke audio track.  Released in 1988 to film festivals and public television stations, the video Roth named The Reagans Speak Out On Drugs slowly became an underground, viral sensation; a meme before easy access to editing technology and the global distributing power of the Internet made such creations commonplace.

Roth's video is both amazing and hilarious to watch.  Naturally, it has circulated on YouTube for quite awhile, although Roth has now uploaded a high-quality version of it to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its creation.  It is a pinpoint example of culture jamming in a fun, important and creative way, one every lolcat mememaker should take note of:

Source: io9

Image from swanksalot's Flickr photostream.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Meme: Family Portrait

If it's Monday, it must be another video game retromeme:

Source: Ry-Spirit via Reddit

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hard Wares: Star Wars/Pac-Man iPad Back Cover

Hey, you got Star Wars in my Pac-Man!

Hey, you got Pac-Man in my Star Wars!

Hey, I have a cool iPad back cover!

You can pick them up at Redbubble.  May the force be absorbed by your iPad cover.

Source: a_man_oxford via Reddit

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What C. Everett Koop Thought About Video Games

As the first "superstar" Surgeon General of the United States, C. Everett Koop held a lot of sway over public opinion when it came to health issues in the 1980's.  With his passing on Monday at the age of 96, one figures he must have had some knowledge on the subject of longevity.

Koop took what was previously a relatively obscure governmental position and used his pulpit (pun intended; Koop was an evangelical Presbyterian), to push some important health issues into the fore, including critical education on the subject of the then burgeoning AIDS epidemic, as well as the lethality of smoking.  It's hard to criticize a man who fought so tirelessly in his surgical career to correct infant birth defects, who then went on to evangelize against stigmatizing AIDS victims and the promotion of inherently dangerous products by the tobacco industry, but when it came to the topic of the effect of video games on children, Koop was dead wrong.

He addressed a conference of public-health workers at the University of Pittsburg in 1982 on the topic of family violence, and afterwards during a press conference he directly implicated video games as a main contributing factor of intrafamily violence, along with television and the poor economic conditions the country was facing at the time.  For video games, he said:

[children] are into the games body and soul - everything is zapping the enemy.  Children get to the point where when they see another child being molested by a third child, they just sit back.

 It was the ever-popular "desensitized to violence" argument, and it flew in the face of reputable studies that refused to reinforce the idea that consumption of media can be said to be a main cause of real-life violence, either in adults or children.  Koop himself, of course, did not cite any evidence to back up his claim, and it seems wildly irresponsible for such a notable public figure, who relished the ability to effect dramatic changes on U.S. health issues, to so baldy present the public with a red-herring as to the causes of family violence.  Koop knew he could address any of the real factors: exposure to abuse as a child, alcohol abuse, an indifferent education system, personality disorders.  There's a shopping list of societal ills that could have accompanied poor economic conditions as reasons for family violence.  Instead Koop decided to demonize video games as a causative factor.

His comments helped take America's eye off the ball as to solving the real causes of societal violence in the country, and for that it should be considered a grave misdiagnosis in Koop's career as "America's Doctor".

For more information on the history of video game violence, consult your local Dot Eaters article.