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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

TV Ads We Can't Forget: Mickey Mantle Goes to Bat for Archaic Gaming Service Called PlayCable

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 7:30 AM

I haven't been a gamer since I was a kid, and unless playing Lexulous with my girlfriend counts, I missed the "online gaming" boat entirely. If I'd been in the right place at the right time, though -- say, if we'd had cable between 1981 and 1983, and an Intellivision rather than my (beloved) Atari 2600 -- I bet the downloadable-game service PlayCable would have seemed like the most awesome thing ever.

PlayCable's spokes-outfielder Mickey Mantle implies as much, and would he lie? No, he would not, even though he pronounces "Intellivision" all weird. Posthumous note to Mickey: the emphasis is on the second syllable, not the first. (Though I retain my childhood fondness for Atari and am aware of their Gameline system, there aren't any Gameline commercials on YouTube, so neener.)

According to, PlayCable was discontinued for the same reason everything gets discontinued: money.

The further mainstreaming of cable television meant that allocating the necessary bandwidth for PlayCable wasn't worth it (curse you, MTV!). Also, the hardware on both ends was not cheap to begin with, and the original consumer-side adapter couldn't handle Intellivision's 1983 wave of more bandwidth-heavy games, behemoths of code which were bigger than 8K. Yes, bigger. The service cost $12 a month, and the commercials hammer home the point that by comparison, individual video game cartridges were too damned expensive at $25 each -- and those are 25 1982 dollars, so that's, like, 500 bucks in 2011 dollars. Ol' Mickey is also pretty open about how the games got really boring really fast. Whoops. In the end, I daresay, 'twas truth In advertising that killed the PlayCable. ------ Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer. She also curates and hosts Bad Movie Night at The Dark Room, every Sunday at 8pm.

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Sherilyn Connelly


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