CAHI is delighted to present a talk with Raiford Guins, Professor and Chair of Cinema and Media Studies at the Media School. Ray will discuss his recent book on Atari design in a conversation with Logan Brown, Doctoral Candidate in the Media School and at the Luddy School of Informatics. Refreshments will be on hand.
Drawing from deep archival research and extensive interviews, Atari Design: Impressions on Coin-Operated Video Game Machines (Bloomsbury, 2020) is a rich, historical study of how Atari’s industrial and graphic designers contributed to the development of the video game machine.
Innovative game design played a key role in the growth of Atari—from Pong to Asteroids and beyond—but fun, challenging and exciting game play was not unique to the famous Silicon Valley company. What set it apart from its competitors was innovation in the coin-op machine’s cabinet. Atari did not just make games, it designed products for environments.
With “tasteful packaging”, Atari exceeded traditional locations like bars, amusement parks and arcades, developing the look and feel of their game cabinets for new locations such as fast food restaurants, department stores, country clubs, university unions, and airports, making game-play a ubiquitous social and cultural experience. By actively shaping the interaction between user and machine, overcoming styling limitations and generating a distinct corporate identity, Atari designed products that impacted the everyday visual and material culture of the late 20th century.
Raiford Guins is Professor and Chair of Cinema and Media Studies in the Media School. He is also the author of Feeling Leeds: Notes on Loving a Football Club from Afar (Pitch, 2022). He has written two other books—Game After: A Cultural Study of Video Game Afterlife and Edited Clean Version: Technology and the Culture of Control—and has edited several other collections. Guins serves as co-editor of the Game Histories Book Series at MIT Press, and was a 2019-20 CAHI Research Fellow.
This event is presented by the College Arts + Humanities Institute with support from the College of Arts + Sciences and the Ruth N. Halls Humanities Fund.