“Successful Asteroids play requires a Zenlike diffusion of concentration, in which the player sees everything but looks at nothing in particular.”
This insight was written by David Owen in the February, 1981 issue of Esquire magazine. His article, “Invasion of the Asteroids,” is some of the finest reporting we’ve ever seen, documenting the game at the height of its popularity.
The story starts out in the video arcades of Manhattan, where the expected crowd of teens is joined by professional men in suits, who regularly forgo their lunch break for a chance to play Asteroids. The author then makes a pilgrimage to Atari HQ in Sunnyvale, California, and speaks with Lyle Rains (V.P. of engineering and the man with the idea), Ed Logg (the programmer who made Asteroids what it is), Howard Delman (head of engineers, who designed the game’s printed circuit board and created its sounds), and others.
The trip ends with a glimpse of Asteroids Deluxe, still in development at the time, and being tested at a local arcade.
David Owen’s voice is that of a fan and Asteroids purist, who understands the nuances of the game. He has gone on to have a prolific career as a journalist and author, including five books on golf — perhaps there is some connection between the games?
In any case, this article is a fantastic snapshot from the time when an Asteroids machine could be found on every corner. The article was just put online by Alex Belth at The Daily Beast: read it here.
Good times for east coast Barcade this week!
The original Barcade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn opened seven years ago, and will be celebrating its anniversary on Thursday, October 13. But bigger news is that the third location just opened on Monday (today!) in Philadelphia. It houses Asteroids Deluxe, along with a whole slew of other classic arcade games and good craft beer. This follows on the heels of a Jersey City Barcade opening this past April, so if you’re meandering through the tri-state area with too many quarters and not enough pints, you know where to go.
Visit the Barcade website for more information about all three locations.
For one weekend each year, California Extreme pulls together a giant collection of classic arcade video and pinball machines. It’s supposed to be amazing. This year it’s at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara on July 9-10, where a ticket at the door buys you all the games you can eat.
Asteroids (with Asteroids Deluxe and Lunar Lander multikit mod) and Asteroids Deluxe are on the list. Last year it was in a cocktail cabinet.