Nov. 29, 2012 at 6:34 PM ET
It is Nov. 29 in the year 2012 and that means the ground-breaking, ball-bouncing, interactive game of Pong officially turns 40 years old.
40 YEARS OLD.
If you are reading this and you (like me) remember playing Pong as a child, well then, let's stop and take a moment to consider what that says about you ... and about how old you might be.
But more importantly, let's stop and take a moment to consider what Pong has meant to and done for the video game industry as we know it today. It was four decades ago that this (now seemingly simple) game of digital table top tennis first arrived in arcades. It would soon make its way into homes and into some of our very best childhood memories. It would not only help launch a famous video game company — Atari — but it would inspire many of today's game creators.
Forty years ago, that bouncing white ball and those infuriatingly small digital paddles helped make the gaming what it is today.
So how does one properly mark this momentous birthday? Here's a look at a few ideas for celebrating this very special day.
1. Treat yourself to some old-school Pong
Pong may be four decades old, but some of the old machines are still kicking around ... and operable. You can pick up a working Atari Super Pong Ten from 1977 here on Etsy ... for a mere $125. And here's an Atari Super Pong console on eBay. Because it's always fun to own a piece of history.
2. Play a modern version of Pong
You may not have the cash to get your hands on an old Pong machine, but no matter, there is still some affordable Pong-style gaming to be had.
For a fresh take on the old gameplay, check out the new app "Pong World," which arrived in the App Store Thursday from, yes, Atari ... and for free.
Earlier this year, Atari issued a challenge to indie game developers to create their own vision of the legendary game for mobile devices (oh how times have change). The winner of that challenge was "Pong World" from zGames — a game that lets players choose from a variety of paddles as they battle in either classic mode or new modes such as Blitz and Hotseat.
You can also play "Browser Pong" here — a game of Pong that lets you use browser windows as the paddles and balls.
Of course, if you want to go big with your Pong-playing, you can try to challenge the folks in Kansas City who recently celebrated the game's anniversary by creating the "World's Largest Game of Pong." Take a look:
3. Read the new book "Atari Inc. - Business is Fun"
If you love video games and their history, then you won't want to miss this new book which details the roller-coaster ride that is the history of the famed game company. The book — which includes some 300 pages of never before seen photos — not only looks at how Atari (fun fact: originally named Syzygy) became a gaming juggernaut, but details the rise of Pong as well as Steve Jobs' early work at the company.
If you don't have the time to take in this 800-page book, then check out Buzzfeed's excellent (and much shorter) look back at the history of Pong.
4. Make a Pong-themed 'Gangnam Style' parody
If there's one thing this world needs more of, it's "Gangnam Style" parodies. And if that retro-yet-totally-modern game "Minecraft" gets its own "Gangnam Style" parody, then surely Pong deserves one too.
All you need is a camera and, well, an elevator. Check out the video above to see some Pong fans who are already getting their Gangnam on.
5. Write the screenplay for the movie adaptation of the video game Pong
From "Assassin's Creed" to "Castle Wolfenstien," Hollywood LOVES making big-screen adaptations of famous video games. Sure, they usually stink more than a week-old whale corpse washed up on the Oregon shore, but hey, one day someone is going to make a truly great video game movie adaptation.
That person may just be NBC's own Helen A.S. Popkin. She knows a hot pop culture trend when she sees one, and so she's celebrating Pong's 40th anniversary by working on her screenplay for "Pong: The Movie." Here, take a gander at the treatment and tell me that this isn't going to be AWESOME:
“Pong: The Movie” - Matthew McConaughey is Dr. Jarod Pong, a government epidemiologist with only 12 hours to find a cure for a pandemic virus and save humanity. A coastal-wide blackout and failed lab generators leave the hunky scientist with no centrifuge to keep his developing specimen moving. If the petri dish doesn’t remain in constant motion for 7 hours, Pong’s cure, and humanity, will be lost. Heroically drawing on a childhood pastime, Pong clears a lab table and, with his lab assistant (and love interest) Naomi Watts, launches the most important game of improvised air hockey in the history of man. Ceaselessly batting the petri dish back and forth, McConaughey and Watts battle boredom, monotony, tedium, and sexual tension to save the human race. Andre Benjamin also stars.
(Dear Hollywood, if you'd like to talk to Ms. Popkin about her screenplay, please note that, as her agent, I will be taking a 20 percent cut.)
6. Play a game of Beer Pong
OK, fine, so this drinking game (loved by frat boys the world over) has nothing to do with the video game Pong. But let's face it, if you're old enough to have fond memories of playing Pong as a child, then, as you contemplate what this anniversary says about your own undeniable middle age, you may need to have a drink ... or three.
So three cheers for four decades of Pong!
Winda Benedetti is so young it's amazing that she's allowed to write about video games for NBC News. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti and you can follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.