Friday, 2 September 2016

E-Sports History #1 - The first videogames

While I am working on my thesis researching e-sport culture I became intrigued with its history. So why not pen it down as a series?! Will try to post something every week.  Sources can be found at the end of the post and will update the particular posts with new info if found.

Alan Turing is generally seen as the inventor of the early computer, but also the programmer of the first digital game. In 1951 he developed the first chess game on paper after Claude E. Shannon published Programming a Computer for Playing Chess. While there was no computer to run the actual program, in fact an algorithm to be precise, Turing had to calculate every move the machine would have made by hand. Taking him around thirty to fifteen minutes calculating a single move. Not very efficient, but in essence the first electronic game was developed. He later tried to code the algorithm onto Manchester Ferranti Mark 1 computer, but never was able to finish.  It would take another 7 years before the world saw the first multiplayer game with a graphical display in the form of Tennis for Two. It had the capability to accommodate two players competing making it the first multiplayer game. Not to be confused with PONG as Tennis for Two used a side by side view instead of the top-down perspective we all know. William Higinbotham in 1958 made the game to entertain visitors of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, a nuclear research facility, during annual open house days. Unfortunately the game was lost when it was disassembled in 1959 as the game was never intended to be a product, but only a novelty to impress open house guests. Various attempts are made to recreate the game on the original hardware used at that time, but we will never know the real Tennis for Two.

The most significant beginning of e-sports and gaming in general came with the invention of Spacewar on the Programmed Data Processor-1 (PDP-1) by Stephen R. Russel, Alan Kotok, Peter Samson and Dan Edwards whom were inspired by the Doc Smith’s sci-fi Lensman novels and completed the game in the spring of 1962. A two-player game on one of the early computers that used a real screen and keyboard with the objective to shoot the other player's spaceship. According to Russel Spacewar is a simulation of a reasonably complicated physical system that was now capable to show what was going on. Besides showing a sophisticated piece of software it also afforded the users to play the game against each other. Electronic competitive gaming among students was born and described in the first edition of MIT university newspaper Decuscope:

If, when walking down the halls of MIT, you should happen to hear strange cries of “No! No! Turn! Fire! ARRRGGGHHH!,” do not be alarmed. Another western is not being filmed -- MIT students and others are merely participating in a new sport, SPACEWAR!

A beautiful first encounter that uses the word sport to identify intense electronic competitive gaming going on a small scale. In an era where networks were virtually non-existent students shared the symbolic and binary tapes with each other or even wrote down the code on a piece of paper in order to play the game at their university. In the mid-sixties there was a copy of Spacewar on almost every research computer in America and hundreds of personal variations on the source code. One of these variations made it possible to play the game in Free-For-All with five players at the same time or Deathmatch mode. The first documented e-sports competition in October 1972 was at Stanford University.
The first “Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics” will be held here. Wednesday 19 October, 2000 hours. First prize will be a year’s subscription to “Rolling Stone”. The gala event will be reported by Stone Sports reporter Stewart Brand & photographed by Annie Liebowitz. Free Beer! - Announcement flyer distributed on campus.

The first e-sports event that lives it days through the words of Stewart Brand and the eyes of Annie Liebowitz. Some vivid observations were penned down by Brand in his article Spacewar: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums that exceeds just an account of a single unfolding event. The Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics sparked the era of gaming with numerous aspects still being around at this very moment. It was the first time a nickname was linked to a player’s name. While it was not uncommon for “hackers” of that day to use a nickname, easier for coding and leaving a signature, it is the first time a player was described by his nickname in a competition. REM, short for Robert E. Maas, could be very well the first gamertag ever be used in a competitive gaming event. Unintentional, as Maas was a programmer first who just participated in the competition, the start of a widespread phenomenon in gaming culture that was later more incorporated when online multiplayer games became mainstream. Other aspects of the gaming culture can already be found reading the observations at the first Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics.

Spacewar affected the way people thought about programming. The simplicity and efficiency of the code challenged other programmers to be creative in the applications written for computers.

To be continued.


"Alan Turing - The First Ever Chess Program - Which Had No Computer to Run On!" YouTube.  19 Nov. 2012.

Brand, Stewart. "Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums." Rolling Stone, 7 Dec. 1972.

Edwards, D.J., and J.M. Graetz. "PDP-1 Plays at Spacewar." Decuscope,

Shannon, Claude E. "Programming a Computer for Playing Chess." Computer Chess Compendium (1950)

When Games Went Click: The Story of Tennis for Two (2013) -

"A History of Esports." Team Liquid - StarCraft 2 Pro Gaming News

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Things I Made (7): Kytopia Sessions - The T.S. Eliot Appreciation Society

The first song of the T.S. Eliot Appreciation Society we recorded at Kytopia with Staplab and 3voor12/Utrecht is out! A live sneak peek of his album that will be released on October 1st at Poppodium EKKO.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Things I Made (6): Pitto - Let's Do It Again

Did the edit for Pitto's latest clip Let's Do It Again that premiered on Clash Magazine. We made the clip with loads of people so hope you enjoy it.

And some backstage pics:

Friday, 15 July 2016

Catching Pokemon in London

So I am in London for three days joining my parents and brother for a quick citytrip and finally got time to play around with Pokemon GO. Already installed it a week ago, but work had me occupied to fully experience the game. Well to be honest I did not really used it as a game, but more as my guide through London. Already visited London loads of times and seen all the usual tourist hotspots like the Tower, Buckingham Palace, the MI5/6 building, biggest IMAX in Europe and so on. I was interested where the app would take me and what I would discover. To be honest: loads of things. Normally you see the well known buildings and plaques that you have to visit, but this time I saw things as the house of The White Rabbit (codename for F.F.E. Yeo-Thomas whom was a agent during WWII), a lot of architecture, pubs with backstories and some sculptures.

"The White Rabbit"
In the four hours I wandered I catched around one hundred Pokemon. Most of them in parks or near known buildings, but I was never in the middle of the streets like most media outlets warn about. Maybe it is on purpose, but the best way to catch the Pokemons was in the parks themselves so I image that kids would want to go to the park to play the game. Get as many Pidgeons as you can get! While drinking some high tea, you have to do that in London and the best place to do that is at the Tea House Theatre and it is a fine stop between catching the little bastards, my eye caught an article in the Daily Mail about the dangers of fast food restaurants using the app to lure kids. Maybe something to keep an eye on.

Looking for some Pokemon at Buckingham Palace
The only thing I missed in the game was a direction function. I get the idea of not knowing where you end up as an adventure, but when you are visiting a city it would be handy to also use the app as a guide to my hotel. Switching between Google Maps and Pokemon Go was a pain in the ass and the game crashed sometimes while doing this. Probably closing the app for the rest of my stay and now grabbing a beer at The Pride Of Paddington Pub.


Monday, 4 July 2016

Things I Made (5): Kytopia Session - Pieter de Graaf

One of the first Kytopia Session, the place I have my office, we ever filmed in collaboration with 3voor12/Utrecht. Pieter improvised most of the session you can watch below and recently got enough funding on his crowdfunding campaing to finish his album. More sessions we filmed can be watched on our seperate YouTube channel of Kytopia Sessions

I had the pleasure to listen to a couple of tracks for his upcoming album and it is going to be awesome! Check out his website and Facebook for more updates.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Things I Made (4): Chris Ayer lyric video

Animated a simple lyric video for Chris Ayer's single a few months ago. Nothing much, but effective.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Things I Made (3): Kytopia Session - TIAN

We record sessions at our office in collaboration with 3voor12Utrecht. This is one of our latest published sessions and we are working on many others. Still have to finish at least 12 tracks, but we all do this for fun so work comes first. Check all the sessions we make on our YouTube Channel and make sure to follow TIAN on Facebook for their latest updates.