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Easy to Learn, Hard to Master: The Fate of Atari

Year: 2017
Production Co: Junk Food Films
Director: Tomaso Walliser
Writer: Tomaso Walliser
Cast: Bill Herd

If you're a Gen Xer and a movie fan and you've seen all the documentaries about the history of the early video game industry, you probably know most of the stuff in this insightful doco.

With the participation of the principals it's mostly pretty reverent of the likes of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, although to its credit it does peel back some of the less salubrious aspects of the age, including an engineer who claims he came up with the essential technology that made the Atari what it was.

But it tracks the history of the heady early days of Pong and Syzygy, the need to sell out to a big company to meet the incredible demand when the home video game revolution finally did take hold, senior company engineers breaking away to create other big industry names like Activision, Bushnell's subsequently being chucked out of his own company, Jobs-style, and everything that came after.

It's an interesting if occasionally dry tale, but the biggest chink in the armour is the narration by a guy called Bill Herd. Apparently a revered game engineer back in the day, Heard resolutely does not have a voice for narration.

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