Archive for the Activision Category

Were you an Activision Master Gamer?

Posted in 80s, Activision, Atari, pop culture, video games with tags , , , , , on September 7, 2010 by Paxton

Cavalcade Arcade

In the early ’80s, the Atari 2600 was king. Nearly every kid had one, and if they didn’t, they had a friend with one that they would spend every waking moment with.  The Atari 2600 was the center of most kids’ universes.  At least, it was to me and my friends.
I received my Atari 2600 one weekend when I was in about third grade. I was sick that weekend and my dad just up and decided to get us the Atari 2600 and a VCR. He is, to this day, my hero. Since the Atari 2600 wasn’t a powerhouse graphics machine, the games had to rely on being creative, thereby making game play addicting. There were many awesome, awesome games for the 2600 console and, like today, there were many different companies besides Atari making games for the console. One of the best, if not THE best, third party developer was Activision Games.

Activision logos

Activision was founded in 1979 by a former record executive and staffed by a bunch of former Atari programmers who broke off and started their own company. These developers were upset that Atari’s policy at the time included not giving credit to game developers in the game manuals.  Activision changed all that.  An entire page in Activision’s game manuals was devoted to the people who developed the games.

Being former Atari developers, the Activision team knew the best way to develop for the console’s hardware. How best to get that extra “umph” from the graphics and the best way to make games fun and addictive.  They also knew how to cater to their fanbase.  Activision started a newsletter for their users that previewed upcoming games, reviewed current releases and shared achievements and high scores from readers who would write in their personal bests.  The newsletter was called the Activision Fun Club News (later renamed Activisions).  Below is the Summer 1984 issue of the newsletter.

Activision fun club news

With all of these reader score submissions coming in, Activision realized that they could use this enthusiasm and build a demand for their games. So, Activision created the Master Gamer program.  The program would include a list of Activision games and what achievement you had to perform in order to earn the title of Master Gamer within that particular game.  The program started off small, with only a few of the Activision catalog games participating.  Here’s an info sheet from within the Activision newletter explaining the concept of the Master Gamer and how to achieve and then apply for the status.

Become an Activision Master Gamer

Activision even had patches (or, “badges”) made that they would send to gamers who proved that they achieved the status.  In this info sheet you can see the badges for the games Laser Blast, Freeway, Skiing, Stampede, Kaboom! and Dragster.

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