Friday, October 2, 2020

Atari Community Awareness Program

[ Table of Contents ]

Community Awareness Program
Atari, 1982

This "ad" is part of the Atari Community Awareness Program. Introduced in March of 1982, the Atari Community Awareness Program was created to inform communities about the coin operated video game industry. It was made available to all Atari distributors. The program materials included a 17-minute video by Jack Morton titled "Video Games: A Public Perspective".


Video Transcription

Speaker 1 (00:19):

Video game. I don't think they're good for children. I think they're pretty neat. That's what I do in my spare time. I don't like the idea of them staying there and pumping money into them. [inaudible] industry's doing real well now. Well, the children are doing that on my children, my grandchildren.

Speaker 2 (00:43):

Well, I guess it's our lens is keeping them off the street just someplace that they can supervise somebody.

Speaker 1 (00:49):

I had a concern of that. I really wasn't sure what type of a draw this was going to have, not only on the other children in the community, but my own would they start going in, uh, playing games there, instead of doing things like reading, which I want them to do their homework after school, they'd get involved, uh, playing with a lot of these games that that has not happened.

Speaker 2 (01:12):

The problem is, and, and maybe societies have never, haven't dealt with this properly, but what do you do with youth when they congregate? Are we saying that there are no benefits to have young people together? What kinds of alternatives are we providing for our youth today? And are we not going to possibly take just one more thing away from them? Suddenly coin video games are turning up all over the country in supermarkets, barbershops doctor's offices, bookstores, even in the jury room after municipal courthouse in San Jose, California. Well, naturally we have some questions. What are these games come from? What effect do they have on the players? And what happens when they appear in our communities? They got some answers. Let's go to the source. This is Sunnyvale. The heart of California is famous. Silicon Valley coined video games were born here in Sunnyvale, less than a decade ago when a small company called Atari introduced a game called pong.

Speaker 2 (02:12):

Don Osborne is currently vice-president of Atari's coin. Video games. Division is a microprocessor is a computer. And this, this computer technology that has been developed, uh, in conjunction with the video screen, that really, really makes it special and very different. This is what gives intelligence to the product. And this is what we think young people are responding to. They have now a recreation form and an entertainment form that is allowing them in an interactive way to deal with an intelligent kind of thing. And once you essentially have is you have, you have a cadre of, of very bright, young, excited, enthusiastic engineers who are programming the memories of these video games, uh, and, and feeding intelligence into these video games to challenge players.

Speaker 3 (03:00):

It has to be easy enough for the person who's never played a video game before to walk up and play it and play it for a sufficient length of time. And he doesn't feel like he's had his quarter steal stolen right out of his hand. Um, but it has to be challenging enough that the, that the expert player can come up and play it and be challenged by it and not be bored by it. I'm really interested in the bizarre quality of life on earth, but not necessarily the every day business I'm really like centipedes is, is sort of an, it came out sort of, because I don't like spiders. That's, that's a lot of how that happened. And, and the spider in that is very cartoonish and, and mischievous and just irritating really. And I like, I liked having my way over a spider.

Speaker 4 (03:45):

Well, that's what the game makers are aiming for color sound excitement. But what really happens when a player puts a quarter into a machine, gives you a feeling of power. You can destroy all these crazy things. That's a way to spend an evening with the family. And, uh, you know, the cost is minimal. He worked hard at it. He tried different tactics and stuff. This is fun challenge. It always changes. It's always something different. And I go crazy when I get on PAC, man, you'd think I was 10 years old. Again,

Speaker 2 (04:20):

The university of Connecticut in Stanford psychologist, Jerry C holster is interested in the broader implications of video games. I suspect it's going to take a concerted effort on the part of the kids, the parents, the game owners, the arcade owners, and, uh, perhaps even the manufacturers, uh, sort of an education and educational push. It seems to me that the control of all of the problems that have been cited against games lies in the hands of the people who play them lies in the hands of the people who offer them the arcade owners. And certainly in the hands of the people who produced them. The impression that I get from reading a lot of the, uh, anti video game literature, is that the parents feel that these forces are out of their control totally out of their control. Uh, it's almost as if these, uh, these games are going to steal their children from them and make them into robots or something like that.

Speaker 2 (05:22):

Uh, but it lies in the control of the people who are involved in them. Since video games first began making their appearance in local communities. The same questions have been asked so many times that we now begin to see a pattern emerge of how the issue arises and how it's settled by local communities. This is Westchester County, about 25 miles up the Hudson river from New York city. The issue came up first here in the village of Irvington, and then spread quickly to other communities. Now it's taken the form of a proposed video game ordinance. Some thoughts about all of this from the town, the supervisor, Charles, the Giacomo, who's the highest elected official in the area in Westchester County. Right now there's probably seven or eight communities, towns and villages that have restrictive ordinances with regards to video games and arcades and the towns and villages that do not have them.

Speaker 2 (06:14):

Uh, they're getting pressure now from various groups that they Institute these types of ordinances. To me, it makes absolutely no sense at all, because I know there are very young people that use these games and the middle aged people and older people that use it. And I think that young people shouldn't be allowed to use it because it helps them with the reflexes and eye coordination. And I think it's a valuable tool for all of us. And it's, it's a great way, I think, to get a lot of pleasure out of this type of time. And I don't think that it should be restricted. There's nothing wrong with the video games per se. How do I to see, uh, more, more concern on the part of the, uh, places that have the machines in terms of not operating the perhaps during school hours, if there is proper supervision and concern on the part of the, uh, people that own the establishment, it seems to, uh, alleviate the problems, just like many families, the horizons of Westchester County, New York, and had to take a close look at the coin video game issue. I think parents also have a role to know where their kids are to see, uh, what they're doing to see who they're with. So I think that, uh, parental, uh, aspect of that also has to be taken into account.

Speaker 3 (07:26):

I really like to see the games in these places, because I think that our kids have so little to do, especially in the suburbs. We are, our kids have nothing. They have no place to go. You have to drive your kids everywhere. Um, everything costs money, the movies are going up, roller skating is going up, bowling is going up. So, um, it's kinda nice to have a place where they can go and play, uh, you know, some games and only spend a couple of dollars. I don't want to see any more restrictions than just what's moderate and just, what's a good

Speaker 2 (08:04):

Was mid arcades account for part of the video game marketplace. But the fact is at least 80% of all the machines in the country are in places like this. Benny September is pizza parlor, route nine, a Croton on Hudson, New York

Speaker 5 (08:20):

Kids that do come here. They know it's well supervised. They know they can't hang out here and they know that they're not going to bother any other kids here. They know they're not gonna take anybody for their money. I have such a good relationship with them. They, um, if they're short for a slice, no problem. I do sponsor four or five, uh, softball teams. I take care of soccer teams. I take care of the towel money that I do make from the machines adds to whatever I have to make here to stay here in business. I would resent them taken away from me. And I think it would cause me to not want to do anything with the towel

Speaker 2 (08:53):

As a trustee in a town, Chicago,

Speaker 4 (08:56):

David Rubin confronted coin video games as a parent and as a town official

Speaker 1 (09:01):

My feeling, uh, if, if I were to make suggestions to other communities would be that I think there is a certain amount of airing of the whole issue that has gotta be done when it first occurs. I think that tends to diffuse some of the emotions that probably will arise. Uh, when the first game shop operator decides he wants to come into the community. Uh, you obviously, you've got to sort of police the hours that this thing is open, closed them at reasonable time so that the children aren't hanging around, that they don't have someplace to go late in the evening. But short of that, I think it really comes down to how well the parents, uh, discipline their children and how they use their time. And I think there is a place for these types of games, uh, in the life of a child.

Speaker 4 (09:50):

I am Sergeant Sweeney. I'm a Sergeant in the 24 police district in the city of Chicago prior to the 24th district coming into the Rogers park community here in Chicago, they had a problem with gangs. Couple of kids got injured, one got killed, but during that same week, we had our first game room open up. Since that time we haven't had another game war. Recently, the city fathers in the city of Chicago, uh, felt that it was a necessity to make it a law that you have to be under the, uh, you have to be 18 years of age in order to even enter into a game room. Uh, it would mean that, uh, the kids would be back on the street. Gangs would be out there recruiting again, and it would be just too much of a problem on the headache. So I went down to the city console and I gave testimony as to, uh, what the police department side of side of the deal. It wasn't a city fathers decided not to enact the law after I gave my testimony. And after they heard other testimony as to our side of it, as far as the police department has been,

Speaker 6 (10:58):

We play the games here, or we go to any game, you know, it's keeping us off the streets and it's not like starting any trouble or anything we're learning

Speaker 4 (11:09):

At the time. Largely because my kids had been spending a lot of time playing arcade games. And I was trying to play them that people develop incredible levels of expertise in playing the games here on campus at the university of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana professor Emmanuel dancin heads up the psychology department and a research project to determine whether or not video games can be successfully used in training to develop and maintain specific skills. We're interested in analyzing the game into its component scales and find out if there are different scales, each of which is separately trainable, it looks like we can analyze the game into its component scale. The next phase would be to find out if your train scales in one game, if you can transfer the, uh, the scale that you have developed into another situation. If so, then the games can be calm, uh, rudimentary training devices. You can talk about pilot training, uh, tank gunnery trainers, uh, controllers of, uh, nuclear power plants, any kind of situation in which a human has to interact with a very, very complex machine and control it. Dr. Harold Ableson is a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of technology in Cambridge. He uses video games in his project logo.

Speaker 7 (12:32):

The logo project is a project that's been going on at MIT since about 1969. And what we've been trying to do is find effective ways to put computer power in the hands of, of children and all sorts of people. We found that computers can be a wonderful way to get people, to explore physics by making games and having things move on the screen and understanding that, and a logo is in some sense, a vision of how computers can be used to make education much more creative and take some of the real creativity that comes with, uh, working with a computer medium and putting that at the service of education

Speaker 4 (13:15):

As a school psychologist and special consultant to a long Island, New York school district, Peter Favaro explores the potential of video games to increase understanding between parents and children.

Speaker 1 (13:26):

And I've developed a manual which teaches parents how to use the games, to gain access into kind of the experiencial world of the child. I teach parents techniques of what they can do with children to find out what children are thinking to find out what's going on in their fantasies to find out what their child's issues are. Games can be used if used correctly, to facilitate communication between parents and children. It's a vehicle around which cooperative interactions can occur

Speaker 4 (14:01):

For the most part, likes the values that he's going to receive her, those things. And I want to teach him and him coming to a game room, uh, is not intrinsically bad. It's not going to harm him to play a game. Personally, I don't feel like it's the responsibility of, uh, uh, of government to legislate what my kids can do and what they can do. Being Christian people. We don't want to go to the place that would give us a bad reputation or otherwise we'd rather come to a place it's a family operation and run plainly. At last count. There were almost 10,000 coin video game operators across the USA here in Atlanta, Georgia operator is Steve Gutierrez helping to make a good name for Korean video games. We're out actively seeking church groups, communities, and families. We try to make ourselves unique in the fact that we recognize that profits could exist in an operation like this.

Speaker 4 (14:52):

We try to appeal to the community as an example. We want that mother to bring her child here while she's shopping. We want her to feel free to drop that child off and to feel free when she comes back to walking herself. And then she won't be harassed by teenagers who were on an unruly. This type of operation does not allow that type of thing to happen. It is well lit. It is well supervised. We're looking to do a way with the reputation that the old arcade or game room around the corner or pool hall once had. This is something we've done voluntarily. We would hope that this could be done voluntarily all over the country. It's very important that we govern our own

Speaker 2 (15:36):

Industry as a manufacturer. Uh, we're going to communities, we're working with different agencies and we're sitting down with people across the table and we're rolling up our sleeves. And we're saying, what are the alternatives that we can, uh, together forge, uh, uh, into some sort of an agreement, some sort of compromise position to really allow us to not only co-exist in the community together, but for our industry to have a real positive, uh, beneficial effect in the community. We want to do that

Speaker 3 (16:07):

Right now. We're looking at working with a tare and other game operators to set up some pilot programs at some of our community centers. We've got a special youth month program coming up in San Jose, where we're focusing positive attention on young people in San Jose. And as part of this with Atari, we're looking at setting up these games in our community centers at different geographic places throughout the city

Speaker 2 (16:27):

Here in San Jose, California youth commissioner, Neil Christie gave his support to the local kids in confronting coin video game opposition. Before it started

Speaker 3 (16:37):

The city council directed their administration to come up with a set of guidelines and the things they're looking at, or how much supervision should be in a game room, what type of hours should there be? So they don't conflict with school schedules where young people are maybe cutting school. And so they directed the city administration, the police department in the San Jose youth commission, which is the youth leadership group in the city of San Jose to gently come up with a set of guidelines that would go back to city council. We need preventative type of programs. Let's get them into something positive instead of having to deal with them in the juvenile justice system. And I think by putting this type of program together, which is incorporating the business community, as well as the government and working with young people together, I think is going to be served the prototype program for the future, instead of having more juvenile jails and things like that, these are the types of things we have to do. And hopefully a lot of the other communities are going to look at that in that positive vein instead of the negative vein of what's the problem with it, instead of saying, how can we use these to best serve both young people in our city and communities

Speaker 2 (17:41):

We've traveled around the country and seeing how coin video games represent a computer age challenge in human relationships that says as youth itself. And we've also seen how parents, businessman elected officials and the players themselves are programming a response that we can live with and play with

Speaker 6 (18:22):


The "Video Games: A Public Perspective" video can be found on here and here

The Atari Community Awareness Program was reviewed beginning on page 62 in the June 15th, 1982 issue of Play Meter magazine. Play Meter was an American trade magazine focusing on the coin-op and arcade industry. It was published between December 1974 and June 2018. 

Recently, a copy of the Atari Community Awareness Program brochure was listed on eBay, which is how I became aware of this material, even though it had been archived previously.

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