Games of the 60s

If you’re a child of the 60s, you’ll remember the golden era of playtime toys like G.I. Joe, Wacky Windups, Troll Dolls, and Die-Cast Model Cars. Unlike generations before, the 60s opened up an exciting world of 100-piece toy car sets for $9.98 and replicas of the U.S. Space Team moon landing. Did you own a Johnny Ringo Western Frontier Playset? What’s more, a large percentage of toys from the 60s lasted long into the future. If you’ve ever played Twister or Operation, be sure to thank the 60s.

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One of the newest addition to toys of the 60s was the ability to make them electronic. If a toy was automatic, lit up, or said hello, it immediately flew off the shelves. Electric trains and race cars were Christmas sensations alongside Chatty Cathy dolls and kitchen sets. Remember those green Army Men figures? The 60s also ushered in the concept of licensing. Batman-themed action figures and accessories were all the rave. Manufacturing companies were rushing to produce Batman toys for children of all ages and in the process realized the right license would gross prime profits. Batman and Secret Agents also gave way to the spy and espionage niche.

Board games were also popular in the 60s families indulging in game night, playing both classic and new games. The introduction of Hoopla, Leap Frog, Shenanigans, and the Ouija Board were huge! The Game of Life (LIFE) reached the height of its popularity in the 60s when Milton Bradley added a large number of adjustments to the game, catering to modern life.

The popularity of skateboards started to rise, approaching $100 million in sales while doll makers gushed over how popular the G. I. Joe doll had become. Young boys hadn’t been excited for a doll since Raggedy Andy, the 1920s companion of Raggedy Ann.

In a time when a Twister board game set only cost $3.84, children and adults alike were having a blast playing 1960s games.

The Oregon Trail

The year is 1848 and you’re a wagon leader guiding your party from Independence, Missouri to the Oregon Willamette Valley. You have to hunt a variety of wildlife for nourishment including bison, rabbits, squirrels, deer, elk, and bears.  Throughout your journey, members of your party may, unfortunately, meet an untimely death in the form of measles, snakebite, dysentery, typhoid, cholera, or exhaustion – many diseases easily overcome by modern, 21st century medicine. In this moment, you are 100 percent on the Oregon Trail!

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The Oregon Trail was originally released in 1971 as an educational tool by Don Rawitsch and has sold over 65 million copies to date. The game was used to teach an 8th grade history class about the trials and tribulations of 19th century pioneers. Shortly after its first installment, the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) recruited Rawitsch to build a stable version of the game they could distribute to schools around the country. Many game-play options were based on historical narratives and primary sources. Most children of the 90s are familiar with the 1985 version of the game, which had improved graphics and easier navigational controls. Since then, multiple iterations of the game have been released, including a 2011 iOS and Android version.

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More recently, the Internet Archive has made it possible for anyone, anywhere to play online for free. The archive’s software library has immortalized other popular MD-DOS games like Prince of Persia, Pac-Man, Sim City, Super Street Fighter II, and Donkey Kong. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, MD-DOS stands for Microsoft Disk Operating System. Games developed for this x86-based system were exceptionally simple compared to games today. By Windows 95, MS-DOS was no longer offered as a stand-alone system.

Over the years, the reception of The Oregon Trail has decreased as game developers continue trying to capture the 1970s appeal of the original game. Regardless of where the game goes now, we can all reminisce on the slightly amusing dysentery deaths or lugging around 900 pounds of meat cargo.

A Brief History of Video Game Consoles

Atari, Snake, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong. We remember the days of the first and second generation games fondly. From 1972’s PONG to present day xBox One, gaming has become a cultural phenomenon, especially for millennials. The infographic below shows a brief history of video game consoles from 1967 to 2009. Although it’s missing a few of the latest additions, this comprehensive list is a great place to start.

Presented by Online Education
Video Game Timeline

Unfortunately, not all game consoles make it the long run. Check out this video highlighting some of the worst gaming consoles in history! Can you guess which consoles made the cut before clicking the video?

And finally, there’s the World Video Game Hall of Fame, an organization dedicated to collecting and preserving, interpreting and educating, and reaching out to communities and programs such as the Museum Access for Children, Foster Family Admissions, Play Therapy Access for Children with Disabilities, a Pediatric Residency Play Observation Program for physicians who work with children, and a Nurse-Family Practitioner Program for nurses who work with new parents. The Hall of Fame had its first inaugural class June 4, 2015. The 6 inductees were:

  • Doom
  • Pac-Man
  • Pong
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Tetris
  • World of Warcraft

Other nominations include:

  • Angry Birds
  • FIFA International Soccer
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Minecraft
  • The Oregon Trail
  • Pokémon Red and Blue
  • The Sims
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Space Invaders

Which games would you nominate for next year?

Board Game Mania

Nothing quite captures a childhood of the 60s, 70s, and 80s quite like board games. While many board games are now brushed aside, reserved only for the occasional family game night or dinner party, these cardboard fun factories used to be the talk of the town not too long ago. Before they were replaced by video games and the latest technology, children would gather round the kitchen table on a Friday or Saturday evening spending some quality time together solving puzzles, mysteries, or ways to accrue the most funds. To this day, online retailers like eBay and Etsy continue to sell vintage board games. Here are 3 of the most popular games to date.

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Monopoly: Still immensely popular today, Monopoly has been licensed in more than 103 countries and printed in more than 37 languages. The game was originally built upon the economic principals of Henry George, an American journalist, philosopher, and political economist. His most influential work extended to areas of land value tax and the value capture of lang and natural resources. The current Parker Brothers edition was released in 1935 fused with fast property trade, negotiations, and resource management.

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The Game of Life (LIFE): LIFE is a board game originally released in the 1860s by Milton Bradley; however, the height of its popularity occurred later in the 1960s when major adjustments were made to fit modern times. The game simulates the life of an average American as they progress through various education and career paths, life and family choices, eventually leading to old age and retirement. The game is currently featured in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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Chutes and Ladders: Originally an ancient Indian board game called “Snakes and Ladders” in which two or more players navigate the game according to the roll of a die, hindered or helped by snakes and ladders respectively, Milton Bradley created their own rendition in 1952. The overarching theme is fairly similar with the added element of moral rewards; depictions of good deeds such as planting flowers are accompanied by a ladder while bad deeds, ergo playing a trick, is accompanied by a chute.

What were some of your favorite games growing up?

Pokémon TCG Live Action!

In light of the most recent post, here’s some live action Pokémon TCG footage. The cards featured in this video are of a newer design than the original early 2000s packs. The Pokémon TCG continues to grow and evolve.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All

The year was 1999 and children all across North America finally got their hands on the very first Base Set of Pokémon cards. The Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) was originally published in Japan in 1996 featuring illustrations by Ken Sugimori, Mitsuhiro Arita and Keiji Kinebuchi. Taking inspiration from the release of the Red, Green, and Blue Game Boy video games, the Pokémon TCG mirrored characters from the extremely popular television show. As of today, almost 15 billion Pokémon cards have been produced worldwide.

Joel Magee Pokemon

Rare Holograhic Pokémon Cards

The Pokémon TCG is a two-player game in which each player builds a deck of 60 cards. These cards are comprised of a combination of “Pokémon cards”, “Trainer cards”, and “Energy cards”. A player may hold no more than 7 cards in their hands at any time. Only 5 Pokémon cards may actively be in play on the “Bench”.

Pokémon cards feature a particular Pokémon character with their name, type, and skill/attack details. Pokémon all have a particular “Hit Point” (HP) number that ranges from 30 to 250. Also printed on the cards are rarity, expansion set, set number, and Pokédex entry number. This information corresponds with how valuable a card may be.

Energy cards power Pokémon attacks. A Pokémon cannot use an attack unless is has the required energy cards.  There are 9 basic energy cards in the form of fighting, fire, grass, lightening, psychic, water, darkness, metal, and fairy. Special energy cards provide more than one type of energy or have additional effects such as healing, extra damage, or colorless energy.

Trainer cards can be used in conjunction with Pokémon and Energy cards. Although they do not have direct attacking power, they allow the player to do useful things like draw new cards, search through their deck, or other special effects. The main types of Trainer cards are: Item, Stadium, Supporter, Rocket’s Secret Machine, Pokémon Tool, Goldenrod Game Corner, Ace Spec, and Technical Machine.

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At the end of the game, a winner is determined by whomever can reduce their opponent’s Pokémon HP to to zero, exhaust their opponent’s resources, and prevent their opponent from drawing from their deck at the beginning of their turn. Since games may last quite a while, half-deck games are sometimes recommended. Brand new Pokémon cards and expansions sets are constantly being released for an exciting and ever changing game.

Chatty Cathy

Chatty Cathy, the pull-string talking doll, was a huge sensation in the 60’s and early 70’s. Originally produced by Mattel in 1959, she became the second most popular doll on the market next to Barbie. She featured a string with a plastic circle pull-piece, or “chatty-string”, on her back that allowed her to speak. The original model came with 11 present sayings such as “I love You,” and “Let’s play school!” Since her inception, the doll’s popularity has prompted a fanclub, book, and hundreds of collectors worldwide. Her wardrobe expanded from a simple blue dress to a playtime set, Sunday dress, and pajamas. Chatty Cathy was one of the first talking dolls on the market, boosting the Mattel company more than it already was as the creator of the Barbie doll.

Chatty Cathy was designed to compliment Barbie. She was the child-like doll juxtaposed to Barbie’s adult form; small girls could relate to her in real time while Barbie was what they aspired to be. According to June Foray, the voice of Chatty Cathy, she was inspired by a the image of a “sweet little girl” who had “sensitivity and loving qualities.” Although she was a mass production doll, there were multiple versions ranging from blonde hair with blues eyes to brown hair with brown eyes. Rarer combinations were blonde hair and brown eyes and vice versa due to stock availability. Vintage Chatty Cathy dolls continue to be sold today. Collectors pay close attention to details like the dolls skin tone, eye placement, freckle pattern, eye color, hair color, lip color, and packaging. These features sometimes vary from doll to doll driving collectors prices up or down. At the turn of Cathy’s 40th anniversary, Mattel recreated a collectors Chatty Cathy replica. The original dolls are currently being sold on eBay for upwards of $500, and even more worldwide.

For more information on Chatty Cathy, check out the video by Mattel below: