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Bushnell: Atari Struggling Because It Hasn't 'Stood For Anything'

Talking as part of an in-depth Gamasutra interview, Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell has suggested that the company's issues in the past 15 years are because it "has
Talking as part of an in-depth Gamasutra interview, Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell has suggested that the company's issues in the past 15 years are because it "hasn't stood for anything", jokingly offering to help Phil Harrison revitalize the in-flux company. Gamasutra's wide-ranging interview was conducted in reference to Bushnell's current role as chairman of the board of casual-specific in-game advertising firm NeoEdge. But the state of Atari - which Bushnell co-founded in 1972 and which has been going through some major changes following Phil Harrison's assumption of control at the firm - was also inevitably tackled. In particular, the following exchange with Bushnell explains his thoughts on the company and what might be done to bring it back to full vibrancy again: "I'm curious to know... Atari has been doing some weird things. Do you pay attention to them at all these days? Are they in your peripheral view? You know, no matter how misbehaved your children are, you still sort of look at them, even though they've left the house and have been in prison for a year. (laughter) Covered in tattoos... Covered in tattoos, you know, in and out of rehab... So what do you think of Atari's current state? Do you think they can turn it around? Do you sometimes wish it would just go away? Well, you know, I've always had a dream of architecting the reversal of fortune. The real problem that Atari has really had for the last 15 years is that it hasn't stood for anything. I think a name and a brand has to stand for something, otherwise it's not a brand. It's a logo. I think that the people who have been running it have never had a core vision. I always had a core vision of what Atari was going to mean, and I believe that without that, you're just flopping around, and you will end up having a hit and then a miss, and you're not creating any value. So I strongly urge them to have some core values, hopefully, that are going to be important in the future. Do you know about Phil Harrison joining Infogrames? What do you think about that? I don't know him well, so I can't really reply. He's a really smart guy. I think if anyone could do it, he could probably do it. Well if he wants to give me a call, I'll give him a hand. (laughter) He obviously did it because he likes a challenge. It's a big challenge." You can now read the full Gamasutra interview with Bushnell, including lots more details on the state of the casual games market and - of course - a few more questions about Atari, past and present.

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