Creator of Pong Receives Award, Kicks Off Video Game Tourney

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“The Father of Video Games,” Nolan Bushnell, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the U’s department of computer and electrical engineering last night.

In 1972, Bushnell created “Pong,” a computerized version of table tennis and the first video game ever. Players controlled a moving block, and the object was to send the ball across the opponents’ side. That same year, Bushnell founded Atari, the world’s first video game system.

Bushnell earned a bachelor’s of science degree in electrical engineering from the U in 1969.

“We played games at the U, and I managed the games department, so I just combined those two and created ‘Pong,'” Bushnell said.

In 1976, Bushnell sold Atari and opened the first Chuck E. Cheese’s pizzeria and arcade.

“It started out as a marketing scheme so we’d have a place to put our games,” Bushnell said.

In September of 2000, Bushnell was inducted into the Computer Hall of Fame with Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple computers, and Michael Dell, founder of Dell computers.

Bushnell said he still loves playing video games, and he owns an X-Box, a home video game system created by Microsoft.

“I think the main thing between video games today and years ago is the level of the graphics. Machines are just so powerful today,” Bushnell said.

Bushnell thinks the future will bring more interactive and interesting games to both home video game systems and personal computers.

Currently, Bushnell is the founder and CEO of UWink, which provides access for people to play video games in public places, such as restaurants and airports.

“These are fun games for everybody, not arcade games,” Bushnell said.

Network gaming allows users to log onto the Internet and compete against one another.

“I think that network gaming has opened up a whole new world for gamers,” Bushnell said.

Though he enjoys games like “Warcraft,” “Quake” and “Doom,” Bushnell said his favorite video game of all time is “Asteroids,” a game from the early 1980s that was released on the Atari video game system.

Bushnell also said that despite the violence in games like “Doom” and “Quake,” it is simply a part of the evolving technology of video games, and as graphics and gameplay become enhanced, violence is sometimes part of what makes a game interesting.

“I would like to see less violence in games, but I don’t see a problem with it. It’s a normal game structure,” Bushnell said.

Bushnell gave a speech last night on innovation and entrepreneurship in the varsity room of Rice-Eccles Stadium last night, where he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Starting at 10:30 a.m today, Bushnell will be on hand at in Room 2285 of the U’s Merrill Engineering Building as part of the Micron Classic Gaming Tournament. Students from the U, Utah State University and Brigham Young University will be in attendance.

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