Hello there VideoGameYore Readers!
We have one simple task; dare we way say it? TO CHANGE THE WORLD! How you ask? Simple. It may be a little-known fact, but the exact release date of many beloved video games in North America, have been lost! E’Gads as you may say; and you’re right to do so! We are missing major pieces of modern history. Well, buck-up reader, we are locked into our primary mission! To recover our recent history, so it will not be lost to oblivion.
What better game to save from the dark depths of oblivion than Pitfall!?
Pitfall! was one of the few original games made for the Atari 2600; most games were recreated or “ported” from the Arcade. David Crane, of the newly formed Activision, created the pre-Nathan Drake, Pitfall Harry. Pitfall! was revolutionary for it’s 20:00 minute limit of gameplay; unfortunately, it did not revolutionize the video game industry to record a definitive release date. While there are sites such as IGN, that confidently, although we’re not sure WHY, state April 20th 1982 to be the release date of Pitfall!.
If you are a casual searcher for anything, it’s unlikely that you will venture past the first page of Google, or any search engine. Be honest with yourself, Google built an entire business off of your first world problem of being too lazy to click to page two of a given search result. Don’t be too hard on yourself, equally to blame is Google itself. Google gives the consumer little incentive to venture past the first four or five results.
“You’re saying Google is useless?”
Oh gosh no! Well, sorta yes, yeah, a little bit, but let us explain…
In 2012, Google started the implementation of Knowledge Graph, and as a result took away a large section of real estate from the first page. Basically, this was Google’s answer to the question you may have never asked. On the surface, it may seem that Knowledge Graph is a great tool to quickly retrieve information and move about your day. Also, why shouldn’t you trust Google and their Knowledge Graph? After all, it’s supported by the CIA World Factbook, and Wikidata and Wikipedia!
Here’s why you shouldn’t trust it…
Would you be surprised to learn that nearly 50% of all SCOTUS web citations lead to a dead end? Well it’s true, AND, continue to hold onto your sphincter ’cause this is about to get super real; even Wikipedia is subject to dead end links. Which, faithful reader, brings us back to Pitfall! for the Atari 2600’s Wikipedia article.
Go ahead, search for this query: “Pitfall! for the Atari 2600 release date”. We DARE you, in fact, we triple dog dare you. Truth be told, you likely already did that. Google’s Knowledge Graph via Wikipedia will tell you Pitfall! for the Atari 2600 released SPECIFICALLY on April 20th 1982. Wikipedia references Allgame.com a now defunct website. While we’re not saying a defunct website cannot be a true source, our sleuthing skills forced us to not superficially accept this cached webpage via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to be a complete truth. The author of the article on Allgame.com, Scott Alan Marriott, doesn’t cite a source on this early defunct website. Why should we accept this as fact?
“Because, the biggest video game website [IGN] and Wikipedia has posted the April 20th date, boom, now it’s a fact!”
Sadly, if we don’t make a conscious choice to cite our sources, nor demand that they be provided on websites the latter satirical quote is… true.
Daemon Nooooo!!! I trusted you, like Walter Cronkite or maybe closer to Wolf Blitzer or something, but still, NOOOOO!
Where did IGN get this release date? Where is their source? If you search IGN’s site for a citation for their claim, there isn’t… because the Internet?
“Case closed April 20th, 1982.”
Case closed? That doesn’t even make sense! Your middle school teacher wouldn’t allow you to turn in a research paper without sources, let alone only one. With that being said, we put on our detective hat on and went to work.
So we went back to Google and input our original query, but changed it slightly to see if it would provide us with any new results. We decided perhaps specifying our search to the Atari 2600 may be limiting the results, so asked our all knowing Google overloads. “What was the release date of Pitfall!”?
Same Results… oh wait, no this is odd, this time Google’s link of Giant Bomb provided a date with their link, it says September 6th 1982! Well this is interesting. The link takes you to Giant Bomb’s community ran wiki. It does not have any citations.
For an unknown reason we were compelled to go back and read Pitfall!’s Wikipedia page over again. Oh crap. We missed something really important. However, in our defense, this fact has gone unnoticed by the editors of Wikipedia. There is reference to Arcade Express reviewing Pitfall! “before its release”. This volume of Arcade Express was published on August 30th, 1982. So according to this Wikipedia article, a preview of Pitfall! was published four months after the release of the game?
As much as we love Wikipedia, this page is clearly borked.
Hehe, borked is a funny word, but this is no laughing matter!
Let us note that you should always check the sources on Wikipedia. With that being said, who are we to believe in this instance? A now defunct website?
Yes, the answer is yes.
Ok, well this is text, so just read….
April 20th, 1982 as a release date for Pitfall! is simply, utterly, factually, completely, and importantly, inaccurate. How do we back up our wild claim? Glad you asked. We found archived printed media from Activision that showed the intended date of Pitfall!’s release was the Fall 1982.
“Ok, wise guys. What is your secondary source smarty pants!”
Fortunately, during the 1980’s, Billboard was tracking the top 15 video games and said that Pitfall! was on the top 15 for four weeks at the time of the above referenced publication, 10/16/1982, which places the game’s initial release somewhere in early to mid September. We thought it would be worth a shot and see if there were any advertisements for Pitfall!
We can safely say this is the happiest we’ve ever been to see an advertisement in a magazine.
Stratford Dist., Inc. had to know that Pitfall! would be available on their shelves for their consumers to purchase otherwise risk looking like a complete dolt in a nationally circulated magazine. While these sources do not exactly prove an exact date, the information previously cited by VideoGameYore corroborates September 18th 1982 as a plausible first day of release and at the very least debunks the April 20th 1982 date.
Do you have information to prove the VideoGameYore project wrong? What is wrong with you? Tell us now!
Until the next Yore.