Joystiq interview: Nolan K. Bushnell -- Atari founder and restauranteur

Kevin Kelly
K. Kelly|04.19.07

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Kevin Kelly
April 19th, 2007
Joystiq interview: Nolan K. Bushnell -- Atari founder and restauranteur

We caught up with Nolan Bushnell at the "I Am 8-Bit" party, and asked him a few questions. Since he founded two of our favorite things, Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, it's hard not to be impressed with the guy. Plus, since he's not in the game business anymore, he can be snarky and honest about the current console wars. Also ... he sort of looks like a pirate.

Check out the interview after the jump where he comments on the success of the Wii, calling the PlayStation a mistake, and some of the details on his new gaming restaurant venture.

So, you said back in 2005 that the 3D controller Nintendo was working on, which turned out to be the Wiimote, was a good idea. Now that it's been out for awhile and is enjoying popularity, what do you think about it?

"I think it definitely fulfilled expectations. A lot of people had opted out of the video game industry because controls for games had become so complex. The Wii has brought a lot of those people back into the equation."

Were you able to pick one up? They've been hard to find.

"Somehow, I don't seem to have a problem getting these things, I don't know why that is. (laughs) I do have a Wii and it's been fun playing around with it."

Speaking of next-generation consoles, what do you think about the current three-way race between the majors?

"Well, it seems like the Xbox 360 has the clear advantage in terms of games and the online service. It's a software race at this point, the hardware is just secondary. I play the Xbox 360 more than the other systems, although I don't have a PlayStation 3 yet. I'm not sure if I will get one, because there isn't really a compelling reason to own one just yet."

You sort of famously said that the PlayStation was a mistake, and that the PlayStation 3 will ultimately fail. What did you mean by that?

"The PlayStation just happened to be in the right place at the right time. It wasn't that they had put together an incredible product, they just filled a void that the market had at the time. Consumers wanted a new gaming system, and Sony was there. There weren't really any other choices as far as the technology available, at the time.

With the PlayStation 3, some of my engineer friends have looked at it and said that it is very difficult to program for. Engineers like to do things that are hard, but they need a good set of tools to do that with. That's keeping a lot of good things from the PlayStation 3, because engineers and developers are shying away from it."

Your restaurant uWink, aimed at women and gamers, opened recently. How has the response been? What makes it particularly appealing to women?

It's been really great. We have touch screens at every table, and it lends itself towards group gaming, not just an individual experience. We don't want to make the gaming a focused experience with just one person playing at a time, and that makes it more accessible to non-gamers, including females who haven't played games before. Plus we have great food and drinks. Stop by and check it out!

Oh, we will. We will. Look for a report on Joystiq soon. Wink wink, nudge nudge.
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