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Random and Raster: Display Technologies and the Development of Videogames
July-Sept. 2009 (vol. 31 no. 3)
pp. 34-43
Nick Montfort, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ian Bogost, Georgia Institute of Technology

Videogame developers have utilized many types of display technology, from oscilloscopes to Teletypes to high-definition LCD displays. Two significant early display technologies, raster scan and random scan CRTs, played a significant part in the history and evolution of videogames. A study of these technologies shows how the choice of one or the other, and the need to port games between the two, influenced game design and prompted developers to innovate.

1. J.D. Foley et al., Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice, Addison-Wesley: 1996.
2. It's at least amusing to note that Computer Space,the first arcade game, was a raster adaptation of a game that ran on a Type 30 Precision CRT display, a random-scan display. Pongwas originally developed for the TV. Although there are probably more compelling reasons for Pong's commercial success, which greatly outstripped that of Computer Space,these two games do provide examples of one unsuccessful "port" from one display technology to another and one successful game that was done with a specific display in mind.
3. S. Stilphen, "Interview with Howard Scott Warshaw," Apr. 2005; http://www.digitpress.com/archivesinterview_warshaw.htm .
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6. J. Novak, Game Development Essentials: An Introduction, Thompson Delmar, 2004.
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9. Although the 2D combat tank games corresponded to the 3D, first-person Battlezone,Rotberg's other game, Red Baron,can be seen as a 3D version of the combat biplane games.
10. D. Kushner, Masters of Doom, Random House, 2003.
11. See also http://www.coinop.org/kb_dl.aspx/KB/gametech atari_xy.html, 2007.

Index Terms:
Keywords: History of computing, arcade games, cathode-ray tube displays, porting, random scan displays, raster scan displays, vector graphics, videogames
Citation:
Nick Montfort, Ian Bogost, "Random and Raster: Display Technologies and the Development of Videogames," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 34-43, July-Sept. 2009, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2009.50
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