In April 1982, Martin D. Meeker, former financial consultant to
hi-tech electronics firms such as Intel and Amdahl, and five computer
software engineers established Data Age, Inc. They got off to
a terrific start, but Data Age's good fortunes were short-lived...
VERY short lived. Data Age made its debut at the 1982 Summer
Consumer Electronics Show with 10 employees, five science-fiction
games and a commitment to ship those games on October 1. Data Age
met the ship date it announced at CES and accompanied its initial
release with what was regarded (at the time) as "one of the most
innovative point-of-purchase materials in the industry.
Called "Mindscape," the 3 1/2 minute sound track,
recorded on a flexible plastic disc, dramatized the sounds of Data
Age's Bugs, Sssnake, Airlock,
Warplock, and Encounter at L-5 games.
The disc, an audio version of the standard consumer catalog, was
offered free to dealers and its customers and was the first
industry-wide attempt at using the sound medium to generate buyer
enthusiasm (today, music CDs for games such as Final
Fantasy and Street Fighter are wildly popular,
at least in Japan.)
Less than a month after shipping its first five games, Data Age
announced a new concept in video gaming that had seemingly been
overlooked by other manufacturers (save for pinball companies).
The original concept, known as "the world's first rock 'n roll video
game," featured Journey in a game called "Journey Escape."
The introduction of Journey Escape let to another unprecedented
achievement. Reversing the arcade licensing trend that was prevalent
in the home video game industry, Data Age licensed the Journey Escape
title to Bally Manufacturing, Co., giving the coin-operated video
game manufacturer exclusive rights to manufacture and market an
arcade version of the "Journey Escape" home video game.
Sounds like a company on its way to the top, right? Well, not
exactly. Data Age suffered the same fate that almost sunk Acclaim
and TH*Q nearly a decade later -- recognizable franchises used in
"The games Data Age has chosen to introduce in 1983 are based on
familiar characters that have been in the public's eye for a long
period of time and have, therefore, generated extensive awareness,"
explained Bob Rice, Vice President of Marketing at Data Age.
"Journey Escape is indicative of the kind of product Data Age will
release." And they followed their philosophy until their eventual
demise in late 1983.
Gamers quickly realized that titles based on hit movie or character
franchises were just as apt to be a boring game as any other title.
Encounter at L-5, Bermuda's Triangle and Journey Escape
were terrible games that lose all consumer confidence in Data Age.
In fact, the latter sold so horribly that Data Age went bankrupt
after they were unable to pay the licensing fees owed to the rock
To Data Age's credit, they did publish some decent titles that have
been largely overlooked. Frankenstein's Monster was
arguably one of the best 2600 games ever made. Unfortunately, for
every good game they produced, a truckload of poor efforts were
unleashed to market, as evidenced by Bugs and Sssnake, two of THE
worst games in the history of videogames.
DATA AGE FACT
- Mr. Bill's Neighborhood and Smokey the Bear,
two titles which were heavily promoted before ultimately being canceled,
were apparently completely playable and finished. Unfortunately, no
prototype of these two games have yet to surface.
- Bermuda Triangle
- Encounter at L-5
- Frankenstein's Monster
- Journey Escape
- Mr. Bill's Neighborhood (not released)
- Smokey the Bear (not released)
- Mindscape Record