Gaming Pioneers and Black History

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When it comes to video games, African Americans have played a vital part in the success of the gaming industry and have helped pave the way to the gaming world we are part of today. In the late 1970s, an engineer named Gerald “Jerry” Lawson designed one of the earliest game consoles, the Fairchild Channel F, in 1976, which featured the industry's first removable game cartridges. Many people don't know of this achievement or simply push it under the rug, but Netflix put out a documentary about videogames and Lawson was featured in it.

After this great feat in 1980, Lawson founded Video Soft, which created games for the Atari 2600. However, the games were never publicly released. After the video game crash, he closed up shop in 1984 and worked as a consulting engineer. “Another company had the idea for the console but it was Fairchild that commercialized it,” says Andersen Lawson. “My dad was the person responsible for putting the team together … and they were able to achieve something that has been long since forgotten.”

Another black inventor Muriel Tramis, who is considered to be the first black female video game designerl, began her career as an engineer, programming military drones. She first made her mark on video games while working at the French development company, Coktel Vision, which she joined in 1986. Her editor trusted her with the project management of his adventure games because of her engineering training, which led to her revolutionizing image and sounds. Tramis wrote the 1987 Atari game Mewilo. Though names like Lawson and Tramis rarely appear in the history books, they still composed remarkable advancements for video games as we know it. Furthermore, countless other black people in the fledgling days of the industry have gone entirely uncredited or unnoticed. But now we are here to ensure they get the recognition they all deserve here in black history month.

Tyree Minor

Tyree is an esports athlete for Louisburg College

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