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Issue No.01 - January-March (2011 vol.33)
pp: 52-65
Frank Veraart , Eindhoven University of Technology
ABSTRACT
<p>Computer games were originally tools that let programmers demonstrate their craftsmanship, and firms used them to demystify computer operation and lure new individuals and groups. As computers became widespread, use and attitudes of actors toward games changed. With examples from the Netherlands, this article shows how games in domestic use lost their versatile meanings beyond entertainment.</p>
INDEX TERMS
History of computing, computer games, software application, meaning, use, hobbyists, professionals, intermediaries, home computers, the Netherlands
CITATION
Frank Veraart, "Losing Meanings: Computer Games in Dutch Domestic Use, 1975–2000", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.33, no. 1, pp. 52-65, January-March 2011, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2009.66
REFERENCES
1. L.G. Haddon, "The Roots and Early History of the British Home Computer Market: Origins of the Masculine Micro," doctoral thesis, Univ. of London, Management School Imperial College, 1988, http://www.mot.chalmers.se/dept/tso/haddon leshaddon.htm; L.G. Haddon, "The Home Computer: The Making of a Consumer Electronic," Science as Culture, vol. 2, 1988; P.E. Ceruzzi, A History of Modern Computing, MIT Press, 2003; M. Campbell-Kelly, and W. Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine, Basic Books, 1996; P.E. Ceruzzi, "From Scientific Instrument to Everyday Appliance: The Emergence of Personal Computers, 1970–1977," History and Technology, vol. 13, 1996, pp. 1–31.
2. S.L. Kent, The Ultimate History of Video Games, Three Rivers Press, 2001; M. Campbell-Kelly, From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog, A History of the Software Industry, MIT Press, 2003, pp. 269–301; R. De Maria, and J.L. Wilson, High Score! The Illustrated History of Computer Games, McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2nd ed., 2004; J.W. Cortada, The Digital Hand (vol. 2), How Computers Changed the Works of American Financial, Telecommunications, Media, and Entertainment Industries, Oxford Univ. Press, 2006, pp. 412–441; A. Kerr, The Business and Culture of Digital Games, Sage Publications, 2006, pp. 11–20.
3. L. King, Game On, The History and Culture of Videogames, Universe, 2002; H. Postigo, "From Pong to Planet Quake: Post-Industrial Transitions From Leisure to Work," Information, Communication, & Society, vol. 6, no. 4, 2003, pp. 593–607; R. Glas, "Van Pong tot Playstation" [From Pong to Playstation], Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, vol. 7, no. 2, 2004; Kerr, The Business and Culture of Digital Games.
4. J.W. Schot and A.A. Albert de la Bruhèze, "The Mediated Design of Products, Consumption and Consumers in the Twentieth Century," How Users Matter, Oudshoorn and Pinch, eds., MIT Press, 2003, p. 230. Find more on mediation in A. Albert de la Bruhèze, and R. Oldenziel eds., Manufacturing Technology, Manufacturing Consumers: The Making of Dutch Consumer Society, Aksant Academic Publishers, 2009.
5. , There were 14 million Dutch inhabitants in 1980 and 16.5 million in 2008, Central Bureau of Statistics, www.statline.nl.
6. F. Veraart, "Vormgevers van Persoonlijk Computergebruik, de ontwikkeling van computers voor kleingebruikers in Nederland, 1970–1990" [Designers of Personal Computing, the Development of Computers for Small Scale Users in the Netherlands, 1970–1990], doctoral thesis, Stichting Historie der Techniek, Eindhoven, 2008, p. 235. This number of members was obtained on 4 Mar. 2009; see HCC website (www.hcc.nl) for current figures.
7. There are hardly any studies focusing on club activities (most on production or use), so it is hard to compare this case to cases of intermediary actors outside the Netherlands.
8. Computer games have had multiple applications. This article focuses on applications that have been adopted by hobbyist users. New applications of games such as teaching aids and aids to resolve moral dilemmas are under construction.
9. D. Levy and M. Newborn, How Computers Play Chess, W.H. Freedman, and Company, 1991, pp. 27–38.
10. D. Campbell, "Events and Sightings, "'Echec:' The Deutsches Museum Reconstructs the Chess-Playing Turk," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 26, no. 2, 2004, pp. 84–85.
11. Levy and Newborn,How Computers Play Chess, pp. 39–43.
12. Levy, Hackers, Heroes of the Computer Revolution, pp. 56–65.
13. The hacker culture has been widely studied by sociologists in the 1970s through 1990s. These studies show diversities of different hacker cultures. They however also show joint values in peer learning, knowledge sharing, and competition: S. Turkle, The Second Self, Computers and the Human Spirit, Granda Publishing, 1984; T. Håpnes, "Not in Their Machines, How Hackers Transforms Computers into Subcultural Artifacts," Making Technology Our Own? Domesticating Technology into Everyday Life, M. Lie, and K. SÖrensen, Scandinavian Univ. Press, 1996; P. Himanen, The Hacker Ethic, A Radical Approach to the Philosophy of Business, Random House, 2001; and Levy, Hackers, Heroes of the Computer Revolution.
14. A. Lange, "Report from the PAL Zone," Game On, The History and Culture of Videogames, p. 47; D.P. Julyk, "'The Trouble with Machines Is People' The Computer as Icon in Post-War America: 1946–1970," doctoral dissertation, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2008, p. 99, http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/ 2027.42/60808/1djulyk_1.pdf.
15. D.H. Ahl, "Mainframe Games and Simulations," The Video Game Explosion, M.J.P. Wolf ed., Greenwood Press, 2008, pp. 31–34.
16. Cited in E. van Oost et al., , "De Opkomst van de informatietechnologie in Nederland" [The Rise of Information Technologies in the Netherlands], Stichting Historie der Techniek, 1998, p. 146.
17. The issue of demystifying computers abilities was also mentioned in A. Jones, "Five 1951 BBC Broadcast on Automatic Calculating Machines," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 26, no. 2, 2004, pp. 3–15. In 1951 BBC broadcasts, Douglas Hartree emphasized the misapprehension of computers as electronic brains. He also mentioned playing games as one of the future human-like activities but did not regard this as evidence of thinking.
18. To get a sense of the broad scope of automation see J.W. Cortada, Making the Information Society, Experience, Consequences, and Possibilities, Prentice Hall, 2002; Cortada, The Digital Hand, vols. 1–3.
19. M.J.P. Wolf ed., "Arcade Games of the 1970s," The Video Game Explosion, Greenwood Press, 2008, pp. 35–44.
20. Campbell-Kelly,From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog, pp. 274–275.
21. Campbell-Kelly and Aspray,Computer, A History of the Information Machine, p. 225; S. Barrat Gray, "Buidling Your Own Computer," parts I and II, Charles Babbage Inst., Amateur Computer Soc. Records, CBI 104, box 1 (reprint from Computers and Automation, vol. 20, no. 12, 1971, and vol. 21, no. 1, 1972); In the same archive, see also S. B. Gray, "The Early Days of Personal Computers," Creative Computing, Nov. 1984.
22. Ceruzzi,A History of Modern Computing, pp. 211–221; Ceruzzi, "From Scientific Instrument to Everyday Appliance: The Emergence of Personal Computers, 1970–1977;" W. Aspray, "The Intel 4004 Microprocessor: What Constituted Invention?" IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 19, no. 3, 1997, pp. 4–15.
23. E. Schlossberg and J. Brockman, The Pocket Calculator Game Book, William Morrow and Co, 1975, p. 1.
24. Schlossberg and Brockman,The Pocket Calculator Game Book, 1975, p. 13.
25. R.A. Allen, A History of the Personal Computer, The People and the Technology, Allan Publishing, 2001, pp. 4, 8–9; Levy, Hackers, Heroes of the Computer Revolution, p. 189.
26. F. Veraart, Vormgevers van Persoonlijk Computergebruik [Designers of Personal Computing], Eindhoven, 2008, pp. 83–84.
27. The HCC members' list of 1979 was a supplement to the HCC Nieuwsbrief [Newsletter]. A mimeographed version survives in the Dutch Royal Library in the Hague. Because of poor printing, about 2 percent of the survey results could not be retrieved. About 660 out of approximately 2,000 members responded to the survey. Royal Library, the Hague, Periodicals Collection, HCC Nieuwsbrief, depot TE 3519.
28. HCC members list in Royal Library, The Hague, journals collection, collection HCC-Nieuwsbrief [HCC Newsletter] 1979 (depot TE 3519). The Model Railroad Club and the development of music compilers are both connected to the histories about MIT hackers. See Levy, Hackers, 2001; and Ceruzzi, A History of Modern Computing, 2003, pp. 129, 208.
29. HCC Software Bibliotheek [HCC Software Library], no year (probably 1979). Mimeograph added to the HCC Newsletters of 1979. A copy survives with the 1979 Newsletters in Royal Library, The Hague, Periodicals Collection, HCC Nieuwsbrief, depot TE 3519.
30. L. Haddon introduced the concept of a "software player": "The Home Computer: The Making of a Consumer Electronic" and "The Roots and Early History of the British Home Computer Market: Origins of the Masculine Micro." See also L. Haddon, and P. Gerd, "Design in the IT Industry: The Role of Users," Technology and the Market, Demand, Users and Markets, R. Coombs et al., eds., Edward Elgar, 2001.
31. My translation of the original is in "PET Benelux Exchange," Personal Computer Magazine, vol. 1, no. 1, 1983, p. 82. (The brackets were in the original.)
32. Campbell-Kelly,From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog, p. 279–280; Wolf, "The Video Game Industry Crash," pp. 103–106.
33. M. de Hond Dankzij de snelheid van het licht [Thanks to the Speed of Light], Het Spectrum, Utrecht, 1995, p. 53–54; Veraart, Vormgevers van Persoonlijk Computergebruik [Designers of Personal Computing], 139–140.
34. N. Selwyn,, "'Doing IT for the Kids': Re- examining Children, Computers and the 'Information Society,'" Media, Culture & Society, vol. 25, 2003.
35. M. Valcke, "Computerspelletjes in het onderwijs" [Computer Games in Education], Computers op School, vol. 1, no. 1, 1983, p. 7.
36. "Fascinerend speelgoed van duizenden guldens" [Fascinating toys for thousands of guilders], Consumentengids, vol. 31, no. 4, 1984, pp. 148–150.
37. "HCC geen club meer voor computerfreaks" [HCC a Club no Longer for Computer Freaks], De Automatisering Gids, 27 Aug. 1986, p. 4; R.P.N. Bronckers, "Microcomputer buiten werktijd" [Micro Computers of Working Hours], De Automatisering Gids,5 Nov. 1986, pp. 30–32.
38. My translation of original B. de Mon, "CBM 64 is meer dan een spelletjesmachine" [CBM 64 More Than a Game Device], HCC Nieuwsbrief, no. 62, July/Aug. 1984, p. 20.
39. F. Veraart, Vormgevers van Persoonlijk Computergebruik [Designers of personal computing], pp. 146–152.
40. CBS Jaarboek inkomen en consumptie [Yearbook Wages and Consumption] 1990–1995 and CBS Statline (www.statline.nl) statistics on Domestic Consumer Goods 1972–2004 and ICT Use 2005–2010 statistics. 1990 and 1991 yearbooks refer to data of the socioeconomic panel measurements taken every October from 1984 to 1989. The diffusion of computers in Dutch households is reconstructed with numbers from different year books. The Dutch Bureau of Statistics initially collected data on computer ownership in a general manner. Only in later years did it distinguish between home and personal computers. The data of the 1992–1995 yearbooks refer to the April data of the same panel. I used the data from October 1985–1988, published in the 1991 yearbook. The other data are from the April measurements published in the 1995 yearbook. The "home computer" data in 1986 are from the April measurement published in the 1995 yearbook. It is unexplained how the "and/or" category is not an addition of the other two.
41. Rough indications can be distracted from the survey on floppy-disk use performed by Personal Computer Magazine in 1988: "Schijfjesgebruik doorgelicht" [Disk Use Investigated], Personal Computer Magazine, vol. 5, no. 10, 1988, pp. 42–44.
42. L. van Dijk, J. de Haan, and S. Rijken, "Digitalisering van de leefwereld, een onderzoek naar de informatie- en communicatietechnologie en sociale ongelijkheid" [Digitizing the Social World: A Review of Information and Communication Technology and Social Injustice], Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, Den Haag, 2000, pp. 119–123. The SCP survey was sent out in 1998 to 6,000 of 6.6 million households and answered by 2,538 (43 percent).
43. A least seven specialized periodicals on gaming appeared between 1990 and 2008. Royal Library, The Hague overview periodicals collection (www.kb.nl).
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