Strong Fellowship – Day 11

End of Week 2. That means five work days left. I’m kind of sad that it’s 2/3 over – back to reality in about 8 days – but I got an awful lot accomplished and I suspect will be able to make at least three or four papers and articles out of this trip.

I’ve finished going through nearly all the publications. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot on TV games in the 1977 issues of Playthings (going backwards, and December was pretty dead). However, the 1978 issues contain a lot of interesting information on how handheld electronics were selling, and 1979 had several articles. Extremely valuable information, and it reminded me to request handheld games to try out. Unfortunately, those are typically in the worst shape, so I might not be able to try any next week… I didn’t know exactly which ones I would be looking for until today, and they have to test everything out. Hence the situation – never good to have something continually evolving in an archive. But I WILL say to my credit I listed ‘and several electronic games’ on the list, just not specifying which ones. D’oh! I think it would have been easier if you could search by year in the Online Collections rather than just by keyword and company…

It’s kind of funny to look at the predictions for where the industry will be 10 years from now (or even 20 – one purported to estimate what the toy industry would be like in the 21st century). One might as well predict the stock market or the weather in 20 years. Especially when deadling with electronics. The field eolves so rapidly that it could change completely in six months to a year. Prediting “more of what happened last year” is typically accurate in most cases.

I also kind of feel the toy industry is incredibly hit-driven and everyone is trying to guess what the next hot product will be so they can order a bunch of it. Then when the average (i.e. not smart) retailer orders too much product and there’s a glut, he has to sell at rock-bottom prices. Gold rush mentality and all that. But videogames by nature are trendy – they need to continually improve, or you have more of the same. LED handhelds were replaced by LCDs. Then cartridge-based systems replaced the LCDs. Everybody was ordering more of the same knock-off LED games when the market had already completely shifted. If you’re part of a boom-bust mentality and looking for trendy product, then you’ll think the market is dead when it’s actually just moving on to a different phase.

Anyway, next week will involve looking at the Ralph Baer papers, an Atari binder, hopefully some videogames, and maybe a few more issues of Playthings. Then try and locate some gamer magazines that aren’t on Archive.org. After that, there are some gamer magazines from the ’90s I wanted to look at as well as some Japanese magazines for personal research – I understand they have an awful lot of Famitsu in the collection. And that may be it! I’m not sure if there is any more information I can get about the computer game industry from the corporate side, but that’s something I really need. Same with player crossover between console, arcade, and computer. There might be some user data in gamer publications, and then there’s the NPD and Yankee Group figures, but that will probably require searching newspapers. Maybe there are Broderbund and Sierra Online corporate data in collections…

Some other advice (to be finalized at the end): If you’re photocopying magazines, take a tablet with at least 32GB of storage – 64GB is a good minimum. Make sure you have a way to put a copy of the data onto something else, like a laptop or external hard drive. I used close to 16GB a week taking photos, but if you need video, that’s obviously more. So 16GB/week, multiplied by 2, and that’s how much storage minimum you should bring. That way, if something terrible happens, you’ve got a data backup. Not sure how I can solve this, but I may be buying a 32 or 64GB USB stick and having it shipped over Amazon Prime. Unfortunately, I have no clue what I would use a 64GB stick for aside from this project, but it’s only $22…

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