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Kings of 'Kong' and 'Pong' honored

BUSHNELL ATARI PONG
Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, the man who started it all with "Pong" in 1972, smiles next to his star in San Francisco on Tuesday.Paul Sakuma / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Hollywood has its Walk of Fame. Now the video game industry is honoring its icons with Walk of Game.

Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell — the man who produced the minimalist but memorable game "Pong" — and "Donkey Kong" creator Shigeru Miyamoto were among those honored Tuesday with a star on the inaugural Walk of Game section on the floor of a downtown shopping and entertainment center.

Video games have come a long way since Bushnell incorporated Atari Inc. in June 1972, and introduced "Pong" to arcades everywhere later that year. The game premise was simple: two video paddles batted a ball (a tiny white square, actually) back and forth across a dark screen until one player missed.

Thus began the video game rage that has blossomed from a pocket-full-of-quarters pastime into a multibillion dollar global industry.

"Thank you very much for this honor. It's always fun to be walked on wherever you can be," Bushnell quipped.

Bushnell has hardly given up his passion for playing games, which began in earnest when he was working in an amusement park decades ago. He recently networked 16 televisions throughout his house to play a serious session of the futuristic shoot 'em up Xbox game "Halo" with his sons and their friends.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newson plays with video game character Sonic the Hedgehog, Tuesday, March 8, 2005, in San Francisco during a presentation of the new video game "Walk of Game." Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, the man who gave produced the minimalist but memorable game "Pong," and "Donkey Kong" creator Shigeru Miyamoto were among those honored Tuesday with a star on the inaugural Walk of Game section on the floor of a downtown shopping and entertainment center. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)Paul Sakuma / AP

Atari's luster faded as competition in the gaming industry heated up in the 1980s and '90s. It was among a handful of properties acquired by Infogrames Entertainment SA in 2001.

In 1981, Nintendo developed and began distributing the coin-operated video game "Donkey Kong." Miyamoto was the creator of the game, where the main character Mario sought to save a damsel from Donkey Kong, a giant cartoonish ape.

Donkey Kong soon became the hottest selling arcade game in the business.