2012 may be the 60th anniversary of the first videogame: a version of Noughts and Crosses for the Cambridge EDSAC. It certainly seems to be the earliest I’ve ever come across, and I say “seems to be” because there’s always the possibility it’s been mis-dated; I can’t confirm it. Here it is (without the subroutines that actually make it work; by modern standards it’s tiny, but still a bit long to include here):
Somebody might well have had “Tic Tac Toe“ running on the ENIAC in 1948, but Cambridge were among the first to realise that the cathode ray tube memory monitors used at the time could double as displays of useful (or fun) output data: this really is video game… of sorts. It seems fair to give A.S. Douglas some credit, at any rate. You can get an EDSAC emulator, with the full program, here. Nobody in their 20s will find it odd to play a game that was written before they were born (although they might have trouble with the telephone-dial controller) but for those of us who remember the excitement of actually having Pong at home it’s a rather strange experience.
It took a long time before anyone attempted to get a videogame rated by the censors. My memory’s a bit hazy on it: as I recall, it was a text adventure version of Frank Herbert’s The Rats, but I’ve read otherwise. I do know it was 1985, at the height of the “video nasty” scare, and was universally seen by gamers as a marketing ploy: get a rather pedestrian title slapped with an 18 certificate, and it’s instantly transformed into catnip for underage boys. The early videogame entrepreneurs understood how people’s minds work.
Those who stock games could be sent to prison for six months or fined £5,000 if they are caught selling 12-rated products to youngsters.
All games will now be rated by the Video Standards Council, which has the power to ban products from Britain if it considers them too explicit.
It has the power to say they’re banned. They never seem to learn, do they?
The Kulturminister, Ed Vaisey, called it a “simplification of the ratings system”. Yeah. The system remains exactly the same as it was yesterday (and it’s quite a good one; I’ve no objection to – voluntary – labelling that gives people an idea of what to expect); all that has changed is that it now has the threat of force behind it. The ratchet has clicked another notch.
Dr Jo Twist, chief executive of The Association of UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie), welcomed the new system.
Oh, what a shocker. They always do.
She added: ‘As we mark the start of PEGI as the single video game age rating system, we’re delighted to use the opportunity to help parents to make informed decisions about which video games to choose for their family.’