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Game Developers Conference to kick off in San Francisco

The Game Developers Conference takes over downtown San Francisco on Wednesday.
March 17, 2014 7:35:33 PM PDT
The Game Developers Conference takes over downtown San Francisco on Wednesday.

It's a scene you might remember from childhood. Rows of young people transfixed on machines with names like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Iin the 80s they called this an arcade. Now, they call it an exhibit by the Videogame History Museum.

"These are things I wasted my youth on. And it's really nice to see them all again," GDC attendee Rich Aitken said.

And at the center of it all is a huge display of Nintendo artifacts.

On the opening day of the future-focused Game Developers Conference, many are starting with a look at the past.

"It brings back your childhood moments, the purest ones in the most real form," game developer Isaac Reed said.

Who could forget the Legend of Zelda or Super Mario brothers one, two and three?

"Mario's endless. He'll be around forever," one attendee said.

Old commercials show just how Super Mario became. Other inventions were ahead of their time. Nintendo took an early shot at 3D and even tried to do virtual reality.

But in the end, its greatest success was the games.

"I remember one of my friends they, every nintendo title that came out, they'd immediately get it and then the entire neighborhood would gather at their house and play the game and they were the cool kids on the block because they had the latest games on the Nintendo entertainment system," game engineering college instructor Jamie King said.

But a lot's changed in 30 years. Back in the 80s, Microsoft made word processors and spreadsheets. Sony made the TV your Nintendo hooked up to, but now both have taken huge chunks out of Nintendo's former dominance.

In a survey of game developers attending the conference, nearly 20 percent said they'll release their next game on Sony Playstation and nearly 17 percent on Microsoft's Xbox.

But less than five percent say they'll release their next game on Nintendo's Wii U.

Some worry the magic is gone.

"They've just gotta find that spark again and make something cool again," Aitken

And that may not mean more Mario.

"I feel like they re-release a lot of their original franchises, and I'd like to see some new games," aspiring game developer Alyssa Galindo said.

That may be why Nintendo's reaching out to independent developers.

At least one said she hopes to develop for their console.


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