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I Salute the Joystick

Published on April 26th, 2012 by Sharon at FromtheDpad.com

A  Salute to Gaming Roots

In this salute to gaming roots Sharon salutes The Joystick. Not the first game controller ever made, certainly not the last, but the one with a high impact on life outside the world of electronic entertainment. Let’s consider… the joystick.
 
 

There I stood, a blissfully tardy teenager, in the long narrow arcade of the rural Ontario town where I went to high school. I was a ‘minor-niner’ at the time, painfully aware of the friends who had invited me here on my lunch but equally aware of the curriculum I was missing by not rushing back to class. Part of me longed to be back in the classroom taking notes and raising my hand with answers but an equal part of me was mesmerized by the bleeps and bloops and dings of the arcade. Little did I know how many years before this day had gone into creating my perfect post pizza experience. Though I would come to this arcade again and again, it wasn’t until I grew much older that I realized just how much had gone into the development of these cases, buttons, and joysticks.

Though the idea started with Sega’s 1966 electro-mechanical submarine game Periscope, the target audience of the first ever arcade box was all too familiar with this up and coming gaming tool. Prior to its adaptation for electronic entertainment the Joystick was (and still is) widely used in military and civilian aircrafts. Periscope, a game designed by Sega to entertain military personnel in Honolulu (who maybe had a little extra time on their hands), used a moving periscope and light animated torpedoes, BUT would make way for the scores of arcade cases to come. The inevitable marriage of coin operated and joystick style gaming continued for Sega during these years. This marriage is one that would populate arcades and make its way into home gaming thanks to Magnavox inventor Ralph H. Baer who is said to have designed the gaming joystick for home console in 1967.

As was the nature at the time, suddenly …….

 

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Exploring history in the DPad

Originally posted on March 21st, 2012 by Sharon at FromtheDpad.com

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A  Salute to Gaming Roots

1889: The Canadian Pacific Railway is completed from coast to coast, the Great Fire in Seattle destroys 25 downtown blocks, Thomas Edison shows his 1st motion picture, cable cars begin service in LA, the 300m Eiffel Tower officially opens commemorating the French Revolution, and 29 year old Fusajiro Yamauchi opens the doors to his company Nintendo Koppai.

A ban of foreign (western) playing cards plagued the fun loving people of Japan (after the communications break in 1633) but playing card games was not entirely banned….exactly. Crafty and persistent gamblers found ways in which card decks were created using imagery as a way to get around the prohibition.   Unfortunately each time gambling with a card deck of a particular design became too popular, the government banned those cards, which then prompted the creation of new ones. As a result of this back and forth a game was developed. That game was called Hanafuda and it combined traditional Japanese games with Western-style playing cards. Eventually the game had become popular enough that the government threw its hands in the air and conceded to loosening the reigns, so to speak.  And when big brother stopped trying to control the card playing it magically became less interesting to mass consumers. It is funny how that works, isn’t it?

                                                                                        photocredit:todayontoday.com

Enter Nintendo. Nintendo, which began with the purpose of producing and selling hand-crafted Hanafuda cards. Instead of just making general illustrations for use with the game, Fusajiro Yamauchi would develop unique hand crafted artwork that would drive the sales of the cards far beyond the competition. Nintendo quickly became the top game company in Japan, and over the next 40 years Fusajiro’s small store expanded into a major corporation adding an expansive library of original card games developed specifically for Nintendo.

Did you know: During the early years of Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo expanded to include ….

Click here to read the rest of the Sharon’s Salute to Gaming Roots and learn more about Nintendo’s beginnings.

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