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May 8: Carnegie Mellon Preserves History of Gaming "Firsts" With Updated Game Innovation Database


Anne Watzman

Eric Sloss

Carnegie Mellon Preserves History of Gaming "Firsts"
With Updated, Highly Visual Game Innovation Database

PITTSBURGH—Was "Pong" really the first video game? Did jumping first appear in "Donkey Kong?" To answer these questions and more about video and computer games, a team of master's degree students at Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) has created a new and improved Game Innovation Database at     

The Web site is a unique online resource dedicated to cataloging video and computer game "firsts." The database, also known as the GIDb, was introduced in 2004 as an open wiki. Now, the site has been updated with an intuitive Flash interface that visually displays the relationships between innovations in a dynamic network where visitors can see how one has inspired another. Its creators say it's an invaluable resource for gaming enthusiasts wanting to satisfy their curiosity, developers searching for inspiration and professors teaching game history and design.     

Currently, there are more than 200 innovations listed in the database. But in order for the GIDb to achieve its full potential as the definitive resource for all game innovations, an intuitive contributor system has been established that allows users to add entries, correct misinformation and share their knowledge.     

"Our old system was a great way to store the innovations," said project advisor and ETC Assistant Professor Jesse Schell, "but our new system lets you see the relationships between innovations in ways not possible before. And since anyone can contribute new content, this can easily become a central repository for game-innovation data used by universities worldwide."    

Schell conceived the GIDb as an archival tool and the basis for an independent study project. So many game innovations were being lost because there was no way of collecting them, he said.     

"We invite outsiders to offer input," added Christopher Boette, a first-year master's degree student at the Entertainment Technology Center and the research lead on the project. "We want people to learn about gaming and be inspired by looking back at history."     

The student team, including Boette, manager Tim Metz, Ankur Ahlawat, Chris Crone, Melanie Haskell and Shruti Kalantri,  will unveil the new, improved GIDb at 2:15 p.m., Wednesday, May 9 in a special presentation at the ETC at the Pittsburgh Technology Center, Second Avenue.

If you check the GIDb, you'll learn that "Donkey Kong," introduced in 1981, was not the first game to utilize jumping. It was actually "Atari Basketball," which came out in 1979.     

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