12 Oct 2017

The history of video games in NZ

From Afternoons, 2:34 pm on 12 October 2017

New Zealand's love affair with gaming started when Pong arrived in the '70s and changed forever when the PlayStation landed in '94, says historian Grant Morris.

Space World, Auckland, 1982

Space World, Auckland, 1982 Photo: Te Ara / Public Domain

Pong involved two line segments bouncing a square between them and you could plug into the TV at home.

Then in the late '70s and early '80s, the home computer gaming machines Atari, Sega and Commodore 64 arrived.

On these, we played the games popular in Japan and the States – Pacman, Super Mario Brothers, Defender and Space Invaders.

Many of us were also playing Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?, Lemonade Stand and the Dunedin-designed Laser Hawk on home computers in the '80s,

From the late 70s, the sometimes social, sometimes territorial culture of spacies parlours and fish-and-chip shop games was developing.

The multiplayer fantasy game Gauntlet was a big one.

But everything changed in 1994 when the first Sony PlayStation landed, Morris says.

"Why would you hang out in the spacy parlour with a big clunky machine which is costing you money when you can play all these wonderful games at home?"

A couple of notable local mentions from the '90s are the racing game Super Skidmarks and Jonah Lomu Rugby, he says.

"Basically you could just pass the ball to Jonah Lomu and he'd run through the entire team. Kind of like real life, I suppose, but he'd do it at super speed."