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SUBOTRON arcademy: Games behind the Iron Curtain: The 1980s Czechoslovak hobby scene

31.01.2014 to 31.01.2014
Host: Q21

SUBOTRON arcademy: Games behind the Iron Curtain: The 1980s Czechoslovak hobby scene

FILM & DIGITAL CULTURE


SUBOTRON arcademy: Games behind the Iron Curtain: The 1980s Czechoslovak hobby scene SUBOTRON arcademy: Games behind the Iron Curtain: The 1980s Czechoslovak hobby scene

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fri, 31.01.2014

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SUBOTRON arcademy: Games behind the Iron Curtain: The 1980s Czechoslovak hobby scene

Date:
Fri, Jan 31, 19:00
Venue: Raum D / quartier21
Free admission

Jaroslav Švelch
Charles University in Prague


This talk focuses on the early history of computer games in Czechoslovakia, which was markedly different from the Western industrialized and market-driven contexts. In the 1980s Czechoslovakia, private enterprise did not exist, the domestic computer industry was lagging years behind the capitalist West and foreign trade was limited by embargos, restrictions and a lack of convertible currency. Although the penetration of home computers was lower than in the West, a vibrant hobby computing scene took root in Czechoslovakia, converging around state-supported computer clubs. Hobbyists and amateurs had been building games for home computers since the 8-bit micros, mainly the ZX Spectrum, became accessible around 1982.
This talk draws from an ongoing research project undertaken at Charles University in Prague, which aims to map the history of gaming culture in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic in the 1980s and early 1990s. Its sources include archival material, contemporary media discourse (magazines and computer club newsletters) and personal interviews with developers, players and organizers of the computer hobby life. The games Jaroslav refers to have been preserved in multiple digital online archives of Czechoslovak software run by individual collectors and enthusiasts.
The talk will focus on the following elements of Czechoslovak gaming culture: the organization of hobby computing and the importance of computer clubs and their periodicals; the informal distribution system that helped spread software around on cassette tapes; and the specifics of the domestic game production, mainly the popular text adventure games, which focused on community goals rather than making profit.

Short Biography:
Jaroslav Švelch is a lecturer and researcher at the Charles University in Prague’s Faculty of Social Sciences. In 2007–2008, he was a Fulbright visiting researcher at the MIT’s GAMBIT game lab. His work focuses on local histories of computer games, social uses of digital technologies, online language management, and the concepts of monstrosity and adversity in games.

subotron.com/veranstaltung/iron-curtain/


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