Today the Discovery Channel announced that it's going to air a five-hour prime time documentary entitled "Rise of the Videogame". It covers the entire history of the industry and has interviews with the likes of Ralph Baer, David Jaffe, Will Wright, Peter Molyneux and even some now-obscure names like Ken and Roberta Williams, the founders of Sierra Online. I should disclose that I wrote the treatment for this show and served as a producer on it alongside World of Wonder (the company behind Inside Deep Throat).
As opposed to a standard "History Of" documentary, the series takes a look at how the social and political climate shaped games and game designers in the 70s through present day. The first episode will premiere on Wednesday, November 21 at 8 PM (ET/PT) with new episodes to follow every Wednesday night through December 19th. If you want more details on each episode, you can read the press release after the jump.
Discovery Channel Examines the History and Impact of Videogames in New Special RISE OF THE VIDEOGAME
Put down the joystick in favour of the remote control and join Discovery Channel for a pixel-by-pixel exploration of the history of videogames in the new, five-part special RISE OF THE VIDEOGAME premiering Wednesday, November 21 at 8 PM (ET/PT).
RISE OF THE VIDEOGAME captures the (r)evolution of videogames from the early 1970s and the days when Atari ruled through today, examining how the videogame industry has changed and how videogame entertainment is created, produced, marketed and distributed.
Level One U.S. Premiere Wednesday, November 21 at 8 PM (ET/PT)
The videogame started not with a bang but with a ping. Unlike other forms of entertainment, videogames turn the viewer into a player who actively shapes the outcome of their experience. At first video games and the creators were as misunderstood by the public as rock & roll in its infancy. But those closest to the videogame business persevered and never lost sight of the ability videogames had to become a dominant form of entertainment.
Level Two U.S. Premiere Wednesday, November 28 at 8 PM (ET/PT)
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, instead of controlling spaceships and tennis rackets, videogame technology allowed players to command recognisable characters with real faces and back stories. This paralleled the importance of the hero's journey that was popular in movies of the time like "Rocky" and "Star Wars," as well as mirrored the rise of individualism and conservative meritocracy, where one man can make a difference. Game creators were liberated to create more complex videogames with heroic journeys, and Japanese creators like Shigeru Miyamoto rose to prominence with star characters Super Mario, Luigi and Zelda.
Level Three U.S. Premiere Wednesday, December 5 at 8 PM (ET/PT)
It was a foreign concept to early game designers but with games like "Return to Castle Wolfenstein" and "DOOM", video games grew from their primitive 2-D roots into richly detailed 3-D worlds. These groundbreaking 3-D games led the industry down new paths both thrilling and troubling. Critics questioned if these games were getting too real, too violent and too addictive. For the first time game designers had to grapple with tough questions.
Level Four U.S. Premiere Wednesday, December 12 at 8 PM (ET/PT)
Since the invention of the computer man has feared "the machine" and its ability to think. But a computer's unique computational power has also led to the development of seminal games that are unpredictable, intelligent and malleable. "God games" like SimCity and Civilization simulate entire worlds and let players experiment with cause and effect. Other designers have used artificial intelligence to create lifelike characters and worlds that shape themselves to each player. And some games are so technologically advanced that they have become tools for learning, or better yet, creative expression.
Level Five U.S. Premiere Wednesday, December 19 at 8 PM (ET/PT)
Can a computer game make you cry? With the introduction of PlayStation 2's "emotion engine" in 1999 game developers had the technology to enable deep, moving stories that tugged at gamers' heartstrings. The rise of online virtual world games added another emotional dimension, letting players make real connections (including marriages) through a virtual game and helping them escape a world rife with violence and terror. .