The home console that launched gaming into the cultural powerhouse that it is today is turning 30. No matter if you enjoy playing games on your PC, Xbox, PlayStation, or your Wii U, we all have Nintendo to thank for bringing home gaming back from the brink after Atari trashed the scene with low-quality games and hardware with little regulation.
At 30 years old, the Nintendo Entertainment System hasn’t stood the test of time in the graphics department, but some of gaming’s earliest ideas originated on the system. In a recent interview with Mashable, NES designer Masayuki Uemura discusses how the system got its name and the pressure Nintendo faced in releasing a product amid low consumer expectations.
We decided to put Entertainment in the middle (of the name) We thought we could maybe piggyback a little bit [on] the naming idea Atari had had, but put something with a little more dynamism and attraction in the middle. So that’s how it became the NES.
Of course, solving the name crisis was just one aspect of getting people interested in gaming after several years of failed Atari home consoles. Uemura said the joystick was one of the most reocognizable things about Atari’s systems, so Nintendo knew they had to do something different.
Atari was famous for their joystick. We were a little worried if it (the NES) would be a success or not, but we knew it was different from Atari — and we knew when people saw it they could see that difference immediately.
Uemura himself says the fact that the NES succeeded in the same market that the Atari failed in was nothing short of a miracle, but that even 30 years later he’s proud of the success the console achieved.
This was something that we believed in and we created because we thought it would be a success. We went with that belief — and it stands as a testament that 30 years later, it’s still being talked about. And I’m proud of that.
Be sure to check out the rest of the interview if you’re interested in gaming history.
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