It’s always weird hearing about this massive video game industry crash because in hindsight, the video game industry is truly massive right now and has been for decades.
It reminds me a bit of the Dot Com Bust, which as we know took the idea that “you can make a website that sells random things” (socks, pet care products, etc) or whatever, and shot a bunch of holes in it. But no matter, because a few years afterwards, everything moved online anyway. At the time it was probably “is this the end for ____ ?” and a few short years later the answer was “haha no it’s a serious growth area for real real.”
When I had to work in Sunnyvale a few years back, I realized that’s where Atari was based in my childhood. The building at 1265 Borregas was blocked off with some concrete bunkers and I couldn’t get too close but it was just a normal, boring, empty office building. I believe I heard that Google was going to or has knocked it down since then.
Yeah, that one caught my eye, along with the green one at the start of the third segment. (The “Star Fighter” setup that clearly seemed to be running Star Raiders.) They must have painted them up like the red Swingline for Office Space.
I think looking back, what the video game crash (or maybe more accurately, the atari crash?) and the dot com bust shows us is that the tech economy was/is volatile by nature, as it’s at the cutting edge of the neo-liberal economy. We probably should have seen such things as a serious warning of what might be coming, but instead, we continued deregulating and embracing the tech sector as a central driver of the modern economy, which has largely been underwritten (at least since the 90s, maybe) by VC investment.
I think the economic histories of this period will likely show that, when they’re written from hopefully a more sane economic period.
On a similar theme there is Dave Haynie’s most excellent Deathbed Vigil video on the demise of C= Amiga.
Thanks for posting! I work for CBS 8, researching and digitizing interesting items from their vast film/video archive going back to 1982. I dug this one up a couple weeks ago. Don’t miss the follow-up from a couple years later!
… on a physical level, Silicon Valley comprises the outdoor areas of The Backrooms
i had never heard about the console they were talking about in that video, turns out it never was released.
Halcyon was slated to come out in 1985, with a price tag of $2,500 for the voice-controlled model… The NES, which had been out in Japan since 1983, finally made its way to North America that year…The base model was only $90.
2500! in 1983, dear god.
The Hubris, more like.
I was a 800XL man,er,um,boy myself, but ya it does look like the 800.
That sounds about right.
The video game crash didn’t happen in Europe. Imagine went bankrupt around that time, but that was more financial mismanagement and an inability to work to a deadline. The more competent workers at Imagine would form Psygnosis, who would later become part of Sony Computer Entertainment. There was a BBC documentary that was made just as Imagine fell apart, which also looked at Ocean Software.
Ultimate would become Rare, DMA Design changed their name to Rockstar, Domark became Eidos, Codemasters became part of EA a few years ago. That’s just the British companies, there were French, German and Spanish games companies who were doing great when things looked terrible in the US.
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