Video Checkers is a video game developed and published by Atari, Inc. in 1980 for the Atari VCS, renamed to Atari 2600.[1][2]

Video Checkers
Developer(s)Atari, Inc.
Publisher(s)Atari, Inc.
Programmer(s)Carol Shaw
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Gameplay edit

A game is in progress.

The game is based on the traditional game of checkers, called draughts outside North America. It has 19 variations of play.[3]

Development edit

The game was developed by Carol Shaw at Atari. She was one of Atari's earliest female programmers, and Video Checkers and 3D Tic-Tac-Toe are two of the first commercially-released video games written by a woman.[4] She accepted the project because Bob Whitehead was working on Video Chess at the time. Working with 4 kilobytes of ROM and the system's 128 bytes of RAM, her algorithm uses alpha–beta pruning. This is more sophisticated than the algorithm developed at the same time by Activision co-founder Alan Miller for his version of Checkers, which uses 2 kilobytes of ROM. Miller later called Shaw to offer her a job at Activision, impressed with her work on Video Checkers.[5]

The artwork for the game was done by Steve Hendricks.[2][6] The game's release was announced at Consumer Electronics Show in June 1980.[7]

Reception edit

Writing in The Player's Strategy Guide to Atari VCS Home Video Games in 1982, Electronic Games editors Arnie Katz and Bill Kunkel called the game "moderately challenging", remarking that the computer player "is usually capable of matching the skill level of just about any player".[8] In a June 1983 review of Video Checkers, the game was described as "rather limited in its interest [...] unless you are an addict of the game".[3] In the 1984 German book, Das grosse Handbuch der Video Spiele, Harmut Huff gave the game a middling score.[9]

In the 2011 book Classic Home Video Games, 1972-1984 A Complete Reference Guide, Brett Weiss praised the computer player, saying it did "a reasonably good job", but criticized the way the screen blanks while planning its turn.[1] In the 2018 book The A-Z of Atari 2600 Games: Volume 2, Kieren Hawken gave a negative review, criticizing the "sluggish" controls, the slow speed at which the computer takes its turns, and the basic graphics, giving the game a score of 3/10 overall.[10]

Legacy edit

Video Checkers was re-released in 2003 for Windows in the collection Atari: 80 Classic Games in One![11] and in 2017 on the Atari Flashback series of consoles.[12]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Weiss, Bret (December 20, 2011). Classic Home Video Games, 1972–1984 A Complete Reference Guide. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers. p. 117. ISBN 9780786487554. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Lapetino, Tim (October 26, 2016). Art of Atari (Deluxe). Dynamite Entertainment. p. 217. ISBN 9781524101060. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Video Checkers". TV Gamer. June 1983. p. 38. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  4. ^ Crowhurst, Anna-Marie (July 24, 2018). "This female gaming pioneer was so successful she retired at 35". Stylist. Archived from the original on August 26, 2019. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  5. ^ Shaw, Carol (October 12, 2011). "VC&G Interview: Carol Shaw, Atari's First Female Video Game Developer" (Interview). Interviewed by Benj Edwards. Archived from the original on January 8, 2021.
  6. ^ Guins, Raiford (2014). "Thinking Outside the (Game Cartridge) Box". Game After: A Cultural Study of Video Game Afterlife. MIT Press. p. 197. ISBN 978-0-262-01998-9. LCCN 2013017731. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  7. ^ Ahl, David H. (September 1980). "Random Ramblings". Creative Computing. p. 16. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  8. ^ Katz, Arnie; Kunkel, Bill (1982). The Player's Strategy Guide to Atari VCS Home Video Games. New York: Dell Publishing, Reese Publishing. p. 54. ISBN 0-440-17058-3.
  9. ^ Huff, Harmut (1984). Das grosse Handbuch der Video Spiele (in German). Wilhelm Heyne Verlag. p. 77. ISBN 3453416201. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  10. ^ Hawken, Kieren (2017). The A-Z of Atari 2600 Games: Volume 2. Andrews UK Limited. ISBN 9781785387630. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  11. ^ "Atari 80 Classic Games in One". Gamepressure. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  12. ^ Falcone, John (July 17, 2017). "Flashback 8 Gold is Atari fans' SNES Classic alternative". CNET. Archived from the original on June 14, 2020. Retrieved February 28, 2021.