Records Are Made to be Broken

December 9, 2010

You know how it works – a casual conversation leads to a Google search the next day. This in turn leads to enlightenment. Or something along those lines.

Last Tuesday morning, a PDF version of the January 30, 1983(!) issue of ‘Arcade Express – The Bi-weekly Electronic Games Newsletter’ arrived in my inbox. It made for good reading and brought me back to the days of my youth when I burned numerous hours and brain cells playing Intellivision, Atari and Commodore machines. I had access to two devices – one that sat in my family room (an Intellivision) and one that sat in a pal’s basement (an Atari 2600). My kids have access to much more – there are numerous devices at their fingertips; including a PS3, Nintendo DS, a MAC mini and my wife’s iPhone. Most of their friends are in similar circumstances.

A quick comparison is in order:

Device RAM Processor
Vic 20 5 KB 1.1 MHz
Intellivision 11 KB 894 KHz
Atari 2600 .125 KB 1.19 MHz
Nintendo DS 4 MB Two ARM Processors:
67 MHz and 33 MHz
PS3 256 MB DRAM
156 MB Video
Seven cores @3.2 GHZ
iPhone 3GS 256 MB eDRAM 600 MHz
MAC Mini 2 GB Two cores @1.66 GHz

Processing power aside, I think that the more important thing to consider is the fact that we are approaching ubiquity for a number of devices in North America. Most people have access to the internet, most people have access to mobile phones (and more and more of them have access to smartphone like the iPhone or an Android device) and most people have access to a dedicated game device. Western Europe and parts of Asia (Japan and Korea) are the same and the rest of Asia is soon to follow, and will be the beneficiary of the tremendous innovation that is happening today. There is a lot of room for growth and maybe not a whole lot of clarity around what that next generation of devices and games will look like (I predict 3D, AI driven games played with a dedicated gaming chip implanted in your cortex).

The last page of the ‘Arcade Express’ newsletter detailed the honor roll of ‘The Nation’s Highest Scores’. Softlayer’s own Jeff Reinis was the top Arcade Game player for Pac-Man. His record was 15,676,420. I wonder how many hours of continuous game playing that is?

-@quigleymar

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