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Insert Quarter: Spacewar!, Computer Space, and the Magnavox Odyssey Launch an Industry

Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

In the 1950s and 60s, the Space Race and the Cold War gave students and researchers at top universities a reason to fight for processing time on the small number of room-sized mainframes in operation at the time. But thanks to the inclusion of a keyboard and a monitor (a luxury for a mainframe at the time), a small group of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered that these machines were perfect for games.

After a lot of trial-and-error, these pioneers wound up with Spacewar!, a ship-battling simulation that combined their fascination with space travel with the computational power available in the mainframe. Completed in 1962, word quickly spread amongst the other students at the university, and Spacewar! became a bonafide blockbuster.

While the the game’s creators didn’t know it at the time, Spacewar! wouldn’t just help the future endeavors of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but also launch an entire industry. (more…)

Posted in Insert Quarter, Retro, Top Story |

Super Mario’s Namesake, Mario Segale, Has Died: How A Chance Meeting Changed Nintendo

Mario Segale died last week at the age of 84, but the Seattle real estate developer and philanthropist is probably best-remembered among gamers as the namesake for Super Mario, Nintendo’s world-famous mascot. (more…)

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Insert Quarter: Mini-Docs Reveal Untold Stories Behind Doom, Splatoon, and What Goes Into Creating an E3 Press Conference

Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

This time around, Insert Quarter is pivoting to video, so start your weekend off right by diving into a trio of videos highlighting some of the lesser-known stories behind the creation of Doom, Splatoon, and Ubisoft’s annual E3 extravaganza. (more…)

Posted in Insert Quarter, PC, PS3, PS4, Retro, Switch, Top Story, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Tagged ,

Insert Quarter: Lara Croft’s Evolution from Tomb Raider (1996) to Tomb Raider (2013) to Tomb Raider (2018)

Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

No video game character has ever been introduced to the public as fully-formed as Lara Croft was back in November 1996. Building on the then-unique gameplay hook of a fully-explorable 3D world, publisher Eidos Interactive and developer Core Design fleshed out Lara’s personality with expensive cutscenes and stoked the gaming public with a relentless advertising blitz. Their Tomb Raider was an instant icon and an overnight sensation, and to hear them tell it, they did it almost by accident.

Toby Gard was the Lead Artist at Core Design, and his early sketches of Lara Croft actually depicted a male treasure hunter that shared more than a few similarities with Indiana Jones. Fearing the litigious wrath of George Lucas, Gard flipped the gender of Tomb Raider‘s hero-in-progress. And at some point in the pre-production process, Gard’s finger slipped when adjusting a “Breast Size” slider, and the slim Laura Cruz turned into the busty Lara Croft.

I’ve long suspected that this part of the legend is fiction, but the rest is history… (more…)

Posted in Insert Quarter, Mobile, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Retro, Top Story, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Tagged ,

Insert Quarter: Developers Look Back at NBA Jam, Smash Bros. Brawl, and Age of Empires

Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

25 years ago… NBA Jam made its rim-rattling console debut.
21 years ago… Age of Empires conquered the PC world.
10 years ago… Super Smash Bros. Brawl fought its way into our hearts.

All three of these games had a massive impact on the video game industry, and the men and women who made them surely have some interesting stories to tell. (more…)

Posted in Insert Quarter, PC, Retro, Top Story, Wii | Tagged

Insert Quarter: The Stories Behind Duke Nukem Forever, Street Fighter: The Movie, Madden NFL 06, and THQ

Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

In his introduction to Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made, Jason Schreier wrote that a game developer once told him it’s a miracle when a team manages to complete a game. Over the next 300 pages, developers from Blizzard, Bungie, and Naughty Dog reinforce this point again and again. Using brutal honesty, they all discuss how close they came to disaster.

But not every team is so lucky (including the members of LucasArts that Schreier interviewed for his last chapter), and the development cycle for even the most well-funded games can often turn into a comedy of errors. (more…)

Posted in Insert Quarter, PC, PS3, Retro, Top Story, Wii, Xbox One | Tagged ,

Insert Quarter – Shadow of the Colossus: From Modern Classic to Classic Remake

Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Sony and Bluepoint Games repackaged Shadow of the Colossus and Ico in a “High Definition” bundle for the PS3 in 2011. In addition to promoting the latter with the proper boxart for the first time in North America, the re-release gave PS3 owners a new opportunity to return to the worlds of Fumito Ueda. But with the PS4’s launch looming, Sony had even bigger plans for Shadow of the Colossus, and they wanted to take the famously frustrating game in a brand new direction. (more…)

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Insert Quarter – Shadow of the Colossus: From Humble Beginnings to Hollywood to Art

Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Sony recently teamed up with developer Bluepoint Games to take Shadow of the Colossus and reimagine it “from the ground up” for the PS4. As one of the first games that could truly be described as “artistic,” it holds a special place in the hearts of many gamers. But how did it get there?

Though it was critically-acclaimed from the very beginning, Ico was only a moderate hit for Sony and developer Fumito Ueda when it was released in 2001. But Ueda was thrilled with the game’s artistic ambition, and decided to create something even bigger as a followup. (more…)

Posted in Insert Quarter, PS2, PS3, Top Story | Tagged