Authored by: Mark Grimshaw

The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415533324
eBook ISBN: 9780203114261
Adobe ISBN: 9781136290510


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The very earliest video games were precisely that: games utilizing one sensory modality only, that of sight. Unlike developments in cinema, which took several decades from its commercial beginnings to develop a viable and reliable sound system, sound in mass-produced commercial video games was present from the start—in the arcade machine Computer Space (Nutting Associates, 1971), which was closely followed by PONG (Atari, 1972), whose monotonous, monophonic beeps rapidly became established as a synecdoche for video games—although the first home console, the Magnavox Odyssey of 1972, did not have sound. The circuit boards the arcade machines were built upon had the innate capacity to produce tones and this aided the faster implementation of game sound when compared to the implementation of film sound. Since then, rapid developments in digital technologies have created new ways to design and utilize game sound and this, in turn, has led to developments in the player experience of and relationship to game sound.

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