Ghosts or Magnets

This is a fascinating mechanical implementation of Atari’s 1972 classic, Pong.

Pong was conceived as a bat-and-ball game in which 2 players tennissed a ball at each other. Due to the limitations of technology, the bats were simply long white rectangles and the ball was a little white square. The “court”, in so far as there was one, was just blackness. All of that – the square bats and balls, the black void – was the way it was only because of the limitations of technology.

So how odd it is to update the game in the 21st century and keep it all just for fun. And it’s one thing to recreate it on a screen, but here they’ve actually built it mechanically in 3 dimensions.

A little white cube slides mysteriously up and down a black tabletop like an indecisive spirit on a ouija board. The bats are moved by turning a big knob, like little white Snickers on pulleys.

The aesthetics of early gaming necessitated by technology have become something beautiful that we’ve decided to keep. Would we do the same with any later videogame era?

Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people