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Profs & Pints DC: The Birth of the Multimedia Blockbuster

June 21, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT

$12. – $13

Profs and Pints DC presents: “The Birth of the Multimedia Blockbuster,” on the transformation of Star Wars from movie into video game and template for a changed entertainment industry, with William O’Hara, assistant professor of music and media at Gettysburg College.

Buckle up all you gamers, Star Wars fans, tech enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs. You’re about to go for a heck of a ride.

We’ll be taking a journey through space and time to the Silicon Valley of 1983, to see how a five-member team of Atari video-game engineers took Star Wars, a movie that had forever changed Hollywood, and used it to create the first successful cinematic video game. In doing so, they not only changed their own industry but also forged the template for the multimedia franchises that continue to dominate the entertainment industry today.

Our guide on this journey, Professor William O’Hara of Gettysburg College, has pored over hundreds of previously unstudied documents that he’ll draw upon to spin a tale of rapidly developing technology, media synergy, and game design history. From storyboards and focus groups to the boardroom, he’ll discuss the innovations, the negotiations, the failures, and the triumphs on the road to the game’s development.

You’ll learn how others previously had failed in such efforts, with the early history of movie-based video games being littered with blatant rip-offs such as the unlicensed Shark JAWS game of 1975 and colossal failures such as the notoriously bad 1982 game based on E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial.

The Star Wars game arose from one engineer’s idea for a “First-Person Space War” and from a seismic shift in the relationship between Hollywood and the video game industry. Professor O’Hara will tell us the inside story of how game developers worked to balance the nuances of George Lucas’s vision with the demands of coin-operated video game entertainment. Their end product took Star Wars from silver screen to arcade screen and helped the early video game industry into the billion dollar behemoth it is today. (Advance tickets: $12. Doors: $15, or $13 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in.)

Image: The sit-down, cockpit version of Atari’s 1983 Star Wars game being played in a New Jersey arcade. Photo by Rob DiCaterino / Creative Commons.


June 21, 2022
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT
$12. – $13
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