A Peak Inside:
Atari's Gameroom 1978

Behind the ominous black and white sing that warns against smoking, eating and drinking, is a world that is anything but ominous.  From behind that sign-bearing door, strange sound are to be heard.  Whiz!, Bang!, Ka-Pow!  Screeching brankes.  Crashing cars.  Other worldly bleeps.   Rat-a-tat-tats.  Pinball bumps and bells.  Rock 'n Roll.   Not to mention the sound of voices.  Person-against-machine sounds.   People gritting their teeth, planting their feet firmly on the floor, hands in position, determined to conquer those machines that they themselves created.

    What is this place of sounds?  It's the Atari Game Room, located in the CHQ building, 1265 Borregas.   It's an incredible place, filled with eye-feasting sights.   Mirrored walls panel each end of the long room, reflecting the breathtaking bright colors that overflow the room no matter where you look.

    The place has an awe-inspiring museum-like quality about it when no one's around.  It's eerily still.  Strangely hushed.   Lights flash in tantalizing silence.   Beckoning anyone to a head-to-head match of human-against-inhuman wits.  The machines wait.  Patiently.


    The Game Room assaults the senses with a powerful micture of sights and sounds.   Magnificent colors and bold, clean, vivid graphics great the eye with a machine gun blast.

    Everywhere the eye wanders, there is something new waiting to be viewed.  And some machine waiting to be conquered.   The jukebox waits too.  Its buttons throbbing to be touched, to set free its music.   All this excitment pulsates under the watchful eye and expert care of Steve Upton.   He knows the machines.  How to play them.  How to win.   In fact, he knows them inside and out.   He can dismantle a machine at pinball speed, find the problem, and put it all back together just as quickly.  Good as new.    Technically speaking.  Steve's real job at Atari is a Development Tech.   The Game Room is just part of his daily routine.   He devotes probably 10-20 hours a week here, making sure everything is as it should be so Atarians can find total enjoyment here.

    Steve watches people come and go.  Defeated and elated.  He knows who's refined the skills necessary to have an equal contest with the Game Room machines.   Steve speaks of the "dual purpose" of the Game Room.  First, it serves as a marketing tool.   To display these magic machines.  Vendors, distributors and sales reps stream in and out, persuing the Atari genius.   But the most visible purpose is that extra benefit for everybody employed by Atari.   A place to come during lunch, or on breaks.  A place to left the spirits, sharpen the eye and the coordination, and pit yourself against there incredible space age toys.

    Steve's watched the games-- and the popularity of each--come and go.  He reesl off some of the current favorites: coin-op's Sprint 4, Tank 8 and the newest--Breakout.   He lists Middle Earth as the most popular pinball machine.  Starship used to dominate the scene here; Steve notes that each new game enjoys popularity for 4 or 5 months, then some new creation takes over.   Come, indulge yourself in its pleasures.

Game Room Hours:

Mon-Sat, 8am to 10pm
Sunday 9am to 4:30pm