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Nolan Bushnell: What The Game Industry Misses

July 7, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6

Like Scrabulous and all those things, right?

NB: And we're seeing... we've done Truth or Dare in the restaurant. All the way from bland questions to a little spicy ones later at night. Great fun! When you see it, you can almost peripherally... you walk through the restaurant, and the tables that are cracking up... they're playing Truth or Dare.

It's very fun to see what we've learned about people interacting with each other as peers, parents interacting with kids... we've got a group of little old ladies that come into the restaurant every Tuesday afternoon - or is it Thursday?

One of them has a Manhattan, the other one has white wine, and the other one has a glass of water. They have a salad, and they play games for two hours. One of them has to be in her late 80s or early 90s. Just... feisty, little old ladies having a good time. Those are our demographics.

I think it's interesting when people say that women avoid conflict in games. It makes me think that maybe it's just the wrong kind of conflict or competition, because if you get any of my female friends together, there's a lot of competition going on there, and also any girl that I've ever dated, you'd be hard-pressed to tell me that they do not enjoy conflict.

TL: The lowest number I've seen in the casual gaming space - at 18-plus demographic, 25-plus, 35-plus - is that 60 percent of the people playing are women. The highest number I've seen is upwards of 70 percent. It's got to tell you something. They want the interaction with what's going on on the screen, and they want the competition that's involved there. It's just that they're not playing with a gun or along those lines. That's really it.

NB: I think "competitive" is the right answer. What I find that women don't like is that they don't like war things, they don't like blood and guts, and they don't like monsters. All the cool stuff! (laughter)

The Problem Child

I'm curious to know... Atari has been doing some weird things. Do you pay attention to them at all these days? Are they in your peripheral view?

NB: You know, no matter how misbehaved your children are, you still sort of look at them, even though they've left the house and have been in prison for a year. (laughter)

Covered in tattoos...

NB: Covered in tattoos, you know, in and out of rehab...

So what do you think of Atari's current state? Do you think they can turn it around? Do you sometimes wish it would just go away?

NB: Well, you know, I've always had a dream of architecting the reversal of fortune. The real problem that Atari has really had for the last 15 years is that it hasn't stood for anything. I think a name and a brand has to stand for something, otherwise it's not a brand. It's a logo. I think that the people who have been running it have never had a core vision.

I always had a core vision of what Atari was going to mean, and I believe that without that, you're just flopping around, and you will end up having a hit and then a miss, and you're not creating any value. So I strongly urge them to have some core values, hopefully, that are going to be important in the future.

Do you know about Phil Harrison joining Infogrames? What do you think about that?

NB: I don't know him well, so I can't really reply.

He's a really smart guy. I think if anyone could do it, he could probably do it.

NB: Well if he wants to give me a call, I'll give him a hand. (laughter)

He obviously did it because he likes a challenge.

NB: It's a big challenge.

Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6

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This was a very interesting interview, however, in one area he said that PCs are an 'open' platform, but just in the next line he is praising how the PCs have becoming encrypting monsters in which the user has lost his ownership of system, let me ignore that part. But where I should state disagreement is in the whole "algorithms are different to music" part, the computer needs to be able to execute the instructions, regardless of the encryption, all programs are in some way just data that's loaded into RAM and passed to the processor.

Even if it was impossible to reproduce the whole program and make it not require a license, it is still quite possible to trick the program into thinking it is got a license. One could think of countless ways, at the end of the day, Treacherous computing only limits the box in which the program is running, but it won't really have a way to know the signals it is getting from what it thinks is the server are legit. You could just get a router that fakes the ip/dns giberish from the site.

Even if you truly had a way to 'secure' a system against it, you'll certainly have the graphics, the music, the data, the scripts. Reproducing the engine is actually a doable thing, there are countless of clones out there.

I wonder though, if this madness really gets to work Like Bushnel is predicting, what prevents the Chinese from making their own games? Or their own computers without these issues? I think underestimating them is not a great idea.