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KCTS - Seattle, WA A two hour presentation of KCTS/Seattle
PBS broadcast Wednesday, September 8, 9-11 p.m.

For half of the American population, an examination of the past, present and future of video games might seem as relevant as a two-hour documentary about skate board wheels or a frank and open discussion of the Slinky. Video games? That's what spotty teen males wearing black t-shirts do in the basement, right?

Wrong. What that half of America might not know is that the other half of America is regularly playing video games. And it's not just kids any more. The average video game player — or "gamer" — is 30 years old. That gamer isn't feeding quarters into an arcade machine, either. He (and increasingly, she) is playing on a home computer, having adventures under a different name and identity in an eternally existing cyberworld full of danger, romance, and thousands of other people pretending to be somebody else.

And that home computer is ever more electronically sophisticated because it was designed in part to play games. Gamers are also playing on home consoles — Playstations, Game Cubes, XBoxes. They're just game machines now, but the powerful companies that make them expect their future home consoles will control not just games, but the television, PC, DVD — all the electronic information and entertainment we see.

Increasingly, that entertainment will be game-inspired. There used to be video games and movies. Then there were video games based on movies. Now there are movies based on video games. The video game industry has surpassed the movie industry in revenue, even though video games have been in existence for only about 33 years.

The Video Game Revolution examines first the history of games, beginning with a 1950s engineer named Ralph Baer who suggested that televisions should have on-screen game playing. Ralph's boss thought he was nuts. Then in 1972 an ex-circus barker named Nolan Bushnell produced "Pong", a bouncing dot that became the biggest thing to hit taverns since the beer nut. The Video Game Revolution features exclusive interviews with game-making pioneers, many of them still involved in game-creation, including Shigeru "Donkey Kong" Miyamoto, Jason "Crash Bandicoot" Rubin, Will "The Sims" Wright, Chris "Dungeon Siege" Taylor, Peter "BC" Molyneux and Megan "Nancy Drew" Gaiser.

Along with the people behind the games, Video Game Revolution profiles people in front of the games, including a couple that met and married as on-line characters and then met and married as themselves, and a classic game distributor and graduate of Cal's Coin College.

The Video Game Revolution is primarily an entertaining look at the world of games, but all is not fun and frolic in that world, and the program touches on that as well. Many games are extremely violent — and that violence is rewarded, which deeply concerns parents like program guest Pamela Eakes of Mothers Against Violence in America and legislators like Senator Joe Lieberman. Games can also be dangerously addictive, and are getting more so through continuous on-line playing.

The Video Game Revolution concludes with the future of gaming, including the possibility that some day our homes will have game rooms like the holo-deck in Star Trek: Next Generation — a completely exclusive game environment — or that a microchip inserted directly into the gamer will allow play without any external apparatus. As one game maker says in The Video Game Revolution, "The real model we're building is the one in your head, not on the computer."

The Video Game Revolution from KCTS/Seattle was produced by Greg Palmer and Marcie Finnila and written and hosted by Greg Palmer. Executive Producer is Enrique Cerna.