Convention update: GlitchCon video game history panel

OdysseyI’m going to be at Glitchcon in Springdale next month, showing off the various fruit that falls off of the multifarious branches of – the books, the DVDs, the podcast, the ‘zine, the site itself. Heck, you can probably talk me into letting you hear some Kasatochi. I’ll have a table in the vendors’ room – drop by and say howdy! (Fear not, there are faaaaaaar more interesting things than me to see, including Steve Downes, the voice actor behind the helmet of Master Chief in the Halo games, sneak-previewing something perhaps Halo-related at his panel.)

I’ll also be hosting a panel of my own, though it’ll be unconventional to say the least. I’m going to do an early-history-of-video-gaming panel, and allow everyone to get their butts out of their seats and try stuff out hands-on. It’ll be an extension of what I do at OVGE, and the “live show” version of the Phosphor Dot Fossils DVDs: you get to hear about the stuff, and see the stuff, while you’re playing the stuff. At this time, I’m planning on bringing the Magnavox Odyssey, Atari Video Music, and other consoles and memorabilia from the “good old days”, including a Nintendo Famicom imported from Japan. All very standard-def, lo-fi, 8-bit stuff. (In some cases, actually, no bits. The Odyssey didn’t even have a central processor.)

I’m already outlining, planning and doing equipment testing on some of the relics in my collection, and I’m planning on the presentation being funny, just a bit manic, and mind-bogglingly informative. There’s a lot of history to cover in only so much time, and it all unfolds from the following premise:

I am as old as the video game industry is. Within my lifetime, we’ve gone from a box with no chips in it, that can’t even keep score, displaying big bloopy blocks with no sound, to 3-D photorealism with wireless live networked games where the players are all over the world.

I’ve met, corresponded with, and spoken to, quite a few of the folks who were personally involved the development of this medium of entertainment. The stories of how they did it, the working conditions under which they did it, and the sometimes absolutely improbable business “logic” (if you can even use that word) behind it all, will amaze you. And the proof is in the hardware and software.

This’ll be something to drag the kids along to just to blow their minds. Make sure you pre-register for GlitchCon! Come learn and, above all, come play. Seriously. There are gaming-specific shows that keep this stuff in a locked glass case – don’t get me wrong, they’re great shows, in many cases run by people I consider friends. But I’m aiming to put controllers in people’s hands, and to bring the real history of the medium – on original hardware, not emulation – to events that, perhaps, aren’t focused on video games. Games, even these old games, are meant to be played. Otherwise they’re just another Thing In A Box On A Shelf.

I have also opened communications with Konsplosion in Fort Smith – held the same weekend as OVGE this year in September – about the possibility of doing a similar setup on Sunday, September 22nd (the day after OVGE, to which I’m already committed and is a single-day event). I’ll let you know more as the date gets closer and I have more details (to be totally honest, I haven’t heard back from them yet, and I’m sure they’re busy; I’m busy planning my thing here, and anyone planning a whole convention is probably 256 times that busy). So right now, the only events that are chiseled into stone are GlitchCon and OVGE.

Now, with all of that being said, let me put this little grenade on the table and pull the little ring/tab thing out of it:

Any convention that would like me to do this setup for them, within a reasonable distance (it involves driving rather than flying, since I’ve gotta haul around TVs as old as the games themselves), get in touch with me. We can work something out. I should probably add that this needs to be within a reasonable driving distance – I’m in northwest Arkanasas, and currently have to borrow a vehicle to go places.

Conventions beyond a reasonable distance – we can work something out too, but it may involve you sourcing old TV sets on your end of things so all I have to bring is consoles. πŸ˜†

Can’t make it to either one? Get thee to Store and order the Phosphor Dot Fossils DVD set and soak up the stories behind the industry at your own pace, in the comfort of your own home!

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