Mr. Alcorn did, and set it up in a local tavern. Soon, though, it broke down.
What went wrong? When Alcorn looked, the answer was clear. Nothing. Players couldn't stop. They had poured in quarters until the machine jammed.
Alcorn had invented ...
* * *
It's a game Bruce Nesmith remembers well. Now 52, with three daughters, Mr. Nesmith was about 11 when his dad brought Pong home. "I thought, 'Hey! Games aren't just played with little pieces of cardboard.' "
Matt Carofano, Skyrim's lead artist, 34, got turned on at age 5 by the Atari he and his brother got for Christmas.
"I was a latchkey kid," remembers production director Ashley Cheng, 38. "When my grandmother came home, she'd feel the TV. If it was warm, that meant I was playing games – instead of practicing piano."
The three of them typify one part of the video game world: its creators. For 10 years, they have worked together under Howard on a series of role-playing games called The Elder Scrolls. In RPGs, players create characters, assign them a role, and direct them on quests. The Elder Scrolls have been very popular.
With Skyrim, the fifth in the series, the team wanted to go beyond what they had ever done.
Which means ... what? They definitely wanted to include dragons. "It's like the holy grail," says Mr. Cheng. But the team didn't want ordinary ones.
"We want to produce suspension of disbelief," Nesmith says. He looks at me to make sure I know what he means.