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The Golden Age of Video Games

During the Golden Age of movies, Clark Gable was the biggest movie star in the world. In the 1980s, without a doubt, the star of the Golden Age of Video Games was Mario. Is is just coincidence that two charming, mustached leading men helped usher their craft to a new level? Maybe.


Real ladies men: dashing, charismatic and hopping from place to place in search of a girl.  

Most hardcore videogamers agree that the Golden Age of Video Games existed in the 1980s. If you disagree, remember this was an age of emerging technology. Games had just evolved from squares and bleeps. Programmers were actually learning how to make video arcades do amazing things. Mall-based and stand-alone arcades were pilgrimages that required rolls of quarters and entire Friday nights. This was the first generation of video-game consoles, when Mario and his 80s pals dominated arcades and home televisions. Characters like Pac-Man and Q*bert. Don’t remember them? It’s okay; we do:

Centipede (1980)


“You can’t hide! I’m coming to get you!”

Players used a roller-ball controller. The distinctive sound of the game’s centipede sprinting across the screen could be picked out of an arcade full of noise.

Frogger (1981)


“Go Froggy, go, you got to keep hoppin’ til you get to the top!”

The frog that became an arcade icon. The goal of Frogger was simple: guide the frog across a busy street and river. The game even inspired a classic episode of Seinfeld.

Galaga (1981)


History in the making: The shooter that stole a million quarters.

The sequel shooter to the arcade dud Galaxian. Challenging stages and tractor beams make this classic still one of the most popular classic arcade game on console services like Xbox Live.

Tron (1982)


The lightcycles were controlled with a glowing joystick. 

Based on the Disney movie of the same name, this game was like Star Wars, because it was one of the first video games to truly transport you into the world of the film. Playing a random round of lightcycles made gamers feel directly connected with the very pixels they controlled.

Burgertime (1982)


Sure, it looks simple. That’s part of the problem. 

The goal: make hamburgers by climbing a multi-leveled playfield. Gamers would walk over sandwich ingredients, dropping them in order to build a burger and (at the same time) avoid getting destroyed by the dreaded pickle, hot dog or eggs. This game devoured quarters.

Super Mario Bros. (1985)

“He’s on fire!” Boy, was he ever! Mario has sold more video games than anybody. 

Like Gable was the grand marshall of his industry for a time, Mario was the ambassador for his, too – and the Nintendo Entertainment System. Mario also did a short stretch as an arcade hero. This isn’t a full list, of course, but a partial list of stand-outs. We left out Mappy, Donkey Kong, Pole Position and so many more. What video-game developer made your favorite game from the Golden Age of Video Games?

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posted by Vince Matthews in News Blog and have No Comments

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