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Nolan Bushnell rubbishes online gaming

Atari founder claims experience is "stilted and flat" compared to playing together in person

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell last night dismissed online gaming as "not cool", while talking up the future of social gaming exemplified by his current uWink venture.

The creator of Pong and the Atari 2600 was speaking during a Q&A session at BAFTA in London. Responding to a question about the potential of network gaming, Bushnell described the internet experience as "stilted and flat" and argued that real social gaming involved people playing together in person.

"Social is buying someone a drink," he said. "Sitting in a dark room in your underpants talking to thousands of people might seem social, but it's not cool. The public space is always going to be here."

Bushnell backed up his view by drawing a comparison with alcohol. He said that the main reason a Martini is more expensive in a bar than making one at home is because "the bar has people around".

uWink is Bushnell's latest gaming concept, described as an "entertainment dining experience" where people are able to play games via interactive video terminals at tables. He claimed that uWink was preparing for the future of home entertainment, around 20 years away, in which touch-screen coffee tables in the home would be the norm.

Bushnell is the latest gaming icon to receive a BAFTA Fellowship, which was presented to him last week at the BAFTA Games Awards.

Looking to the future, Bushnell revealed plans to dedicate the rest of his career to using games as an educational tool. "US schools are in disarray; it's just horrible," he said. "I think the next big wave of value is in education - games are good for you. I want to leave a legacy of more than just fun."

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Johnny Minkley avatar

Johnny Minkley


Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.