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Video games make millions, 25 cents at a time

The Story

Escapism has rarely been cheaper or easier than in 1982, thanks to a booming arcade game industry. But is it really so enthralling to pretend to save the world from space invaders or rescue your girlfriend from the clutches of a giant, barrel-chucking ape? Just ask millions of North Americans whose eyes are glued to the screens in video arcades all over the continent. CBC-TV's The Fifth Estate looks at the appeal of these games and the huge profits rolling in from the fanatical following of arcade escapism.

Medium: Television
Program: The Fifth Estate
Broadcast Date: Nov. 23, 1982
Guest(s): Ed Bosso, Craig Hubey, Eugene Jarvis
Reporter: Hana Gartner
Duration: 14:22

Did You know?

• The smash hit arcade game Space Invaders was first released in Japan in 1978 where the machines ran on 100-Yen coins. According to the book High Score! The Illustrated History of Electronic Games, the game was such an instant and huge hit that the country experienced a temporary shortage of 100-Yen coins as the public stuffed them into machines. The Japanese government quadrupled its production of the coins in order to allay the shortage.

• In its theatrical run in 1977, Star Wars grossed approximately US $460.9 million, with an average ticket price of US $2.25. Space Invaders made approximately $2 billion dollars in its arcade release, with each game costing 25 cents.


• There are several rumors about the origin of the name Donkey Kong, usually based in a mistranslation from Japanese to English. One version has it that the game's designer Shigeru Miyamoto was trying to find the English word for "dumb" or "stubborn." A Japanese-English dictionary supplied the word "donkey," which he combined with King Kong to create his dumb/stubborn ape Donkey Kong.




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