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Gaming History You Should Know – History of Medieval Times February 14, 2021

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It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m sure many of you (under normal circumstances) would be interested in seeking fun experiences to share with the special people in your life. May I suggest a chicken dinner and joust? Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced gaming related documentaries. Today, we’re going to talk about an experience that made you feel like you were INSIDE the game, Medieval Times.

Medieval Times is a dinner theater event, heavily inspired by the classic stories of battling knights. For a fixed price (reduced for children), you could watch a live joust and armored combat show while having a full dinner. YouTube Channel Midway to Main Street, which details great theme park history videos, produced this great video on the history of the venue. You can check it out below:

I live in a state that is the absolute last to get any kind of business, so the first time I ever heard of Medieval Times was in the Jim Carey film The Cable Guy (Ed Note: Pretty underrated film if you ask me). I have to admit, when the world returns to some semblance of normalcy, this is a place I’d like to check out. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Gaming History You Should Know – Photon February 7, 2021

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It’s Sunday, and that means it’s time for another Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced documentaries on the history of gaming. In honor of the Super Bowl, I felt like highlighting the origins of a competition meant for gamers, Laser Tag.

One of the things I’ve missed the most since most of the world has been forced to stay home is Laser Tag. If you’ve never played the game, the rules are simple. You, along with a large group of other players, are given a harmless laser weapon strapped to a set of armor covered in sensors. Your objective is to use your laser to aim for your opponents’ sensors. The trick is, the game is usually played in a futuristic inspired arena, and barriers, mirrors and traps you will need to navigate around can be placed between you and your peers. It is the closest thing the real world has to a multiplayer death match, and lacks the extreme pain and risk of injury playing paintball does. In the event I’m handed a working sensor suit, I have single handedly won 16-player games on many occasions (and still have the score sheets to prove it).

But how long has Laser Tag been a thing? I remember it taking over in the early 90s under the name Q-Zar, but apparently the game has been played as early as the 1980s. Photon, a specific version of the game with unique rules and a unified design, jumped into the Laser Tag market at that time. It was accompanied by toys, a home version, and eventually a television show! Apparently, an episode of The Tomorrow People was not the first time a game of laser tag was shown on television.

The guys over at the YouTube Channel Toy Galaxy have always been a great channel for the history of Toys, Games and Collectibles, and Photon looks like it meets all three of those things. If you wanted to know what inspired Laser Tag, you need to give this a watch.

Gaming History You Should Know – History of Cyberpunk January 31, 2021

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It’s Sunday, you know what that means, time for an all-new Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced gaming documentaries from all over the web. Today, we’re going to highlight the genre that was a big part of my first PC gaming memories, and has seen a resurgence this year, Cyberpunk!

The folks over at Indigo Gaming produced this incredible documentary which highlights all of the great Cyberpunk works of art produced over the past four decades! I had assumed I knew the history of Cyberpunk, and then I watched THIS.

Honestly, I could see more episodes of this series being produced in the future. I wish we could see more of those B-movies referenced in Part 2. Growing up with access to HBO in the mid-90s I certainly remember films like Cyber-Tracker and Retroactive. Anybody else plan to seek some of these movies and games out now?

Gaming History You Should Know – The Failure of New Coke January 17, 2021

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It’s Sunday, time for a new Gaming History You Should Know, a series where we highlight some of the best independently produced documentaries about the history of gaming. Today, we’re going to be talking about one of the biggest failures in the history of capitalism, which had gone on to serve as a stark reminder to all successful companies ever since. That’s right you guessed it, we’re going to talk about the time New Coke was released.

I know what you’re thinking, New Coke is a soda, it has nothing to do with gaming whatsoever, so why are we highlighting it here? Oh my, you sweet dear. Gamers have been drinking soda while gaming since the dawn of the hobby, and while everyone has their own personal preferences (Bawls, Mountain Dew, Pepsi) we cannot dismiss the ongoing success of the Coca-Cola Company, and their line of products including Coca-Cola Classic, Sprite and Diet Coke. In fact, programming god John Carmack was well known for his love of drinking down Diet Coke while working on his games at id Software, and I’m sure he isn’t alone.

Coca-Cola had been a successful company and known as the US’s favorite soda for nearly a century. However, by the 80s, heavy competition was starting to get distributed nationwide. Pepsi, a rival cola, had increased its market share, and many consumers believed that was due to the fact Pepsi tasted better than Coke. Coke, after doing tons of blind taste testing, believed they found a new beverage formula that tasted better than Pepsi, and that new beverage could wipe Pepsi out.

With this new flavor in mind, The Coca-Cola Company announced they would be changing the taste of Coke to this new focus tested soda, and branded it New Coke. Obviously, it didn’t work, and the company reversed course. After its fall, New Coke would go on to be nearly every comedian’s analogy for failure. Some people even assumed it was some nefarious trick pulled by the company to increase sales in the long term by intentionally releasing a bad product in the short term to trick consumers into thinking they may lose out on restocking their favorite beverage. In fact, most people remember that train of thought being the inspiration for a Futurama joke in the episode where the characters visit the Slurm factory.

Was there more to this story? Was it a conspiracy? YouTube icon Company Man, who has discussed everything from the demise of beloved toy stores to the origins of Dippin Dots, produced a fantastic documentary about the origins and the fallout of New Coke. If you’re a fan of Coca-Cola or not, you should totally give it a watch!

Let’s be honest, this whole fight was over personal taste, and that’s subjective. Every person will have their own personal preferences, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, this seemed to be a rare case of EVERYONE universally agreeing they didn’t want Coke to change, and the company had to bow to their consumers’ will.

Did we ever see New Coke again? Yes, in many forms. For a while, cans of New Coke would share store shelf space next to the (now rebranded) Coca-Cola Classic, until its supply ran out. There was a push to bring it back during the 90s, and people might remember seeing bottles of something called Coke II at their supermarket at that time. Due to its poor label design, I incorrectly assumed it was some kind of store brand knock-off and never purchased it but apparently Coke II was New Coke. More recently, Coca-Cola partnered with Netflix to promote Coke during the launch of Stranger Things season 3. The show, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a period piece and that specific season happened to take place at the same time New Coke launched. While they couldn’t actually SELL New Coke (maybe there was an issue with it being approved by the FDA for sale) they gave it away during many points of that summer, including to people who visited the Atlanta plant.

I actually still have a can of the stuff hanging around somewhere. If there’s a demand, I could do a taste test video of it down the road.

Gaming History You Should Know – History of Tamagotchi January 10, 2021

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Happy Sunday everyone, time for another Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced gaming history videos from across the web. Today, we’re going back to the 90s to tell a story about a well known gaming property that influenced an entire industry.

Most kids of the 90s remember Tamagotchi. Released by Bandai, it was a simple LCD game that allowed you to create and care for a virtual pet. You could feed it, clean up after it, and play simple games with it. The graphics weren’t the best, even for the time, but the hardware was inexpensive and designed around the concept of portability and interactivity.

YouTube Channel Billiam, who I’ve seen produce some incredible videos about older electronic devices from the late 90s and early 00s, made this great video about the Tamagotchi you all need to check out. Maybe after watching it you’ll see the appeal of the gameplay, or if you’re like me you’ll find the technology behind it quaint. Check it out below:

I know that the video showed a very simple game that might even look primitive in the standards of today’s smart devices. However, let’s be honest, your smart device may be powerful, fast, and have a pretty screen, but it requires constant recharges over the course of a week. By choosing to use simple hardware, Bandai gave the Tamagotchi long battery life, a simple but clean interface, and a potential for device interconnectivity using IR or NFC.

Since its release, virtual pet games have mostly moved to smartphones and tablets. However, it’s hardware design lives on and we’ve seen companies ranging from Sony, Sega and even The Pokémon Company try to copy it.

Gaming History You Should Know – History of Workboy, GameBoy’s Unreleased PDA Peripheral January 3, 2021

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Happy New Year everyone, welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced gaming history content from across the web. Today, we’re going to be talking about some gaming history that has been long since forgotten, mostly for the fact it was never released.

While most people use their smartphones and tablets to manage their day to day notes and communication, smartphones as we know them did not exist before 2007 when the iPhone was first released. However, pocket sized electronic devices capable of note taking and rudimentary wireless data exchange were available since the early 90s, we called them PDAs.

PDAs, short for Personal Digital Assistant, were tiny computers capable of storing electronic notes, as well as include some basic programs including an address book, calendar and calculator. Since PDAs were powered by simple batteries, you would need to regularly back it up to your PC or Mac so not to lose data. The most famous PDA was the Palm Pilot, but Apple had their own PDA called the Newton.

Being small, portable computers capable of storing data and running programs, PDAs were not cheap. They may run off store bought batteries but their hardware still required a low power CPU, static RAM (for storage), and a monochrome LCD screen. This alone would put a PDA price at around $150-300 USD. However, a better option was on the horizon. At the start of the 90s, a handheld gaming device was taking over the world. Called the Game Boy, it was priced at around $80USD and featured a monochrome screen, several interface buttons, a CPU, a sound chip, a serial port, and the ability to run an enormous library of games through expandable ROM cartridges (called Game Paks), the Game Boy was every kid’s essential device for a family road trip.

A company called Fabtek was interested in answering an important question, “Could we add the capabilities of a PDA to the hardware of a Game Boy and deliver a product that could be cost competitive in a time PDAs were seeing incredible use by the enterprise market?” Enter, the WorkBoy. Unfortunately, despite being previewed in an issue of Nintendo Power, it was never released.

Did You Know Gaming, one of the biggest channels in the history of YouTube, produced this thirty minute webisode about the history of this unreleased peripheral. Check it out:

Sorry about the lack of consistent content over the holiday season, you can be sure that regular uploads will resume this week. We’ve got an upcoming written game review, an essay, and at least one new video on the way!

Nerdy Yule Logs December 23, 2020

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Merry Christmas Eve Eve everyone! Continuing with today’s theme of having a happy non-traditional Holiday Season, we decided to continue sharing another of our merry traditions here on the site. Today, we’re going to be sharing some of our favorite Yule Logs from across the internet.

What is a Yule Log? The tradition of the Yule Log goes back even further than Christmas itself, and denotes a holiday that celebrated the return of the sun during the height of the dark winter season. People would cut down a tree and sit around it as it burned. In the more modern days of television, as not much fresh content was available at the time (production companies and television networks would take Christmas off) someone had the brilliant idea to broadcast a live video feed of a log burning in a fireplace. Since not everyone has a fireplace in their home, it was a quaint novelty for homeowners to have it running in the background as they celebrated the holiday with their friends and family.

Since the wide adoption of HDTV, I’ve noticed a huge resurgence in Yule Logs. The improved picture makes the fireplace seem almost real, and wider aspect ratio gave the opportunity for people to be more creative with their set dressing. Now, even the nerdiest people in the world are creating Yule Logs, and we’re going to show you some of our favorites from across the web. We will include the technical specs on each one when applicable.

First up we’re going to feature our own official Nerdy Yule Log. Filmed in 1080p it runs for about a twenty minutes and features a fireplace with a bunch of presents any nerd would hope for at the time. Perhaps we should do a new one in the future.

Next up I want to highlight something that Nintendo produced last year that I absolutely loved. A person playing Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on the Nintendo Switch Lite in a log cabin. It was filmed in 1080p and runs 30 minutes. Technically it’s not a Yule log, but we’ll allow it.

Next I want to talk about one of the more destructive Yule Logs. This next one, produced by the Angry Video Game Nerd, features him burning some of the awful games he’s reviewed over the years. It is in 1080p, includes classic 8-bit chip tune music and runs for an hour.

What do you say we feature an animated Yule Log next? In 2018, the world had recaught Spider-Man fever after the tremendous success of the PS4 game, and the film Venom was able to capitalize on it. To celebrate the film’s home video release, Sony produced this animated Venom Yule Log and put it online. In it, we watch a cute animated Venom enjoy the holiday in front of his fireplace. This Yule Log is entirely animated and goes for ten hours.

Next one may not be gaming related but anyone who was a gamer in the 90s will undoubtably remember the show Mystery Science Theater 3000. A man is trapped up in space and is forced to watch some of the worst movies ever made with only some robots to keep him company. In this official Yule Log produced by the show creators, they watch a Yule log burn and relive some of the best content from over the show’s history. It is an hour long.

Finally, who wouldn’t want to have Christmas on the TARDIS? Of course I’m talking about a Doctor Who Yule Log! This video, produced officially by the BBC, is of a Yule Log burning in the TARDIS and runs for two hours. Since there hasn’t been a Christmas Special in the past few years, I’m assuming the Doctor has been spending the past few Christmases celebrating at home with friends.

No matter what you celebrate, Happy Holidays!

Gaming History You Should Know – How Catherine Became a Professional eSport December 6, 2020

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It’s Sunday and that means it’s time for a new Gaming History You Should Know, where we discuss and highlight some of the best fan produced documentaries about the history of gaming! Today we are going to be talking about one our favorite games of all time in one of the most unusual ways. We make it no secret we loved the game Catherine with its incredible story, art style and puzzles. However, one thing we haven’t really talked about when it comes to this game is a part of the game that at first glance seemed tacked on as an afterthought, its competitive 2-player mode.

Now, we are hardly eSports players here (unless you count Quake 2 or Unreal Tournament LAN parties back in the late 90s) but eSports have grown to become the biggest competitions in the world, with huge prize money and die hard fans. One of the biggest recognized competitive events is EVO, which regularly hosts fighting game competitions that pit the best video game players in the world against each other. As a joke, Catherine was added to the event’s game list. It was expected to be a joke, until some of the players started to actually play. The crowds went absolutely nuts at just how good the gameplay was.

So how did a game with no online multiplayer become one of the biggest competitive games? Enter YouTube channel Akshon Esports, which produces INCREDIBLE videos about the history of various competitive events. They produced this documentary about what brought Catherine into the world of eSports, and how it is doing to this day.

Catherine is out now for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Catherine: Full Body is out now for Nintendo Switch and PS4.

Gaming History You Should Know – History of Halo 2’s I Love Bees Campaign November 28, 2020

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Hope you guys enjoyed your Thanksgiving Holiday and welcome back to today’s featured article of Gaming History You Should Know. As we head into the weekend, I wanted to bring your attention to one of the most well-known and fondly remembered pieces of gaming marketing in the history of the entire video game industry. It all started with a strange website.

In 2004, Halo 2 was gearing up for a November release. A sequel to the Xbox launch title Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 was one of the most anticipated games of all time. In fact, I remembered being blown out of my seat when I watched the game’s live demo at E3 2003. I had played the original game on the PC when it rereleased in 2003, but with no indication it’s sequel would ever see a PC release, I decided to buy the Xbox console just so I could play it when it first launched.

A few months before the game launched, a commercial for the game began to be shown at movie theaters across the US. While this would be considered no big deal nowadays, it was a huge deal at the time. When the video was finally put online, viewers worldwide noticed something weird in its last second. A strange site, ilovebees dot com, was superimposed over the official Xbox website for about a second at the end of the video. People who visited the site found a odd blog about beekeeping which looked like its HTML code was badly in need of maintenance.

What was the ilovebees site? It was actually a new type of game, dubbed the ARG, for Alternate Reality Game. But what was the game’s purpose and how did it tie into Halo 2’s marketing campaign? YouTube Channel Rocket Sloth is a Halo archivist and historian. A lot of his videos have either proven, debunked or exclusively solved some of the biggest mysteries in the history of the Halo franchise. Today, we’re going to be highlighting his incredible documentary on Halo 2’s I Love Bees event. Bees, my god.

Halo 2 is out now for the Xbox and PC. It is part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One, PC, and Xbox Series X/S.

Gaming History You Should Know – The McDonalds DS Training Cartridge November 27, 2020

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Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the biggest independently produced content about the history of gaming. I told you guys that our article on Wednesday would not be the only burger-themed article we would be talking about this holiday weekend, and today’s featured article should not disappoint.

Everyone should be familiar with the fast-food restaurant McDonalds. Love it or hate it, it is one of the biggest companies worldwide, with billions of dollars in sales from burgers, fries, sodas and chicken. I’m sure everyone reading this article has eaten food from them at least once, or at least fondly remembers the fact they offered free Nintendo Zone WiFi service for Nintendo 3DS units at around the same time they improved their coffee. After I got my very first Nintendo 3DS XL, I remember actually making many trips there to download the latest exclusive Nintendo content, and swap StreetPass data with the location’s previous users. It was a great time to be a Nintendo handheld gamer.

McDonalds employs thousands of people, and as such has to create new ways to keep employees refreshed on working procedures. But what is the best way to train employees in today’s day and age? Most companies use textbooks and training videos, McDonalds Japan decided to create a video game. The platform? The Nintendo DS, the biggest selling handheld console of all time. The method? An exclusive McDonalds training cart that was distributed to a very select group of employees.

Many people believe this exclusive DS game did not exist, despite the fact a major news organization did a piece about it. However, given the recent dissolution of the Nintendo DS platform, many believed if a training cart ever existed the copies would’ve likely been lost or destroyed by now. Now is the time for me to introduce our hero.

Nick Robinson created an incredible documentary that is being talked about non stop all over the internet. It details his search for the elusive McDonalds Japan training cartridge. This is no easy feat, due to the global pandemic, international travel, as well as importing/exporting international goods, have almost entirely ceased. Join him as he tries to obtain this elusive game and his quest to unlock the game’s data. I believe this video is so well made it is worth being shown as an episode of NOVA on PBS.

Next time, we will be highlighting another special marketing event. You could say, this was Microsoft’s first attempt at something on the scale of Quantum Burger. The only difference is, MANY people fondly remember this event, and there is a feature-length documentary about it. We will talk about that tomorrow.