In this talk, Boellstorff and Soderman will present work in progress related to their book manuscript, Intelligent Visions: The Intellivision System, VideoGames, and Society. Intellivision, developed by Mattel Electronics in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is an important but understudied home video game system. In this informal talk they will first discuss the concepts and methods used in our research, which thus far includes over 110 interviews and 20,000 pages of archival data. They will then provide an overview of their project, which is shaped by the field known as “platform studies” and includes detailed attention not only to game design and programming, but marketing, testing, advertising, quality assurance, corporate structure, and competition. To illustrate some aspects of their analysis, they will discuss two case study examples: the turning of a bug into a feature in Utopia, one of the first world-building games, and TV POWWW!, one of the first examples of "esports." Throughout they will discuss the implications of their methods and theories for game studies, the history of technology, and social inquiry in the broadest sense.


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