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What’s Nolan Bushnell up to these days?

By: 11 May 2011 One Comment

"Bounce," a game that plays rather like an inverse version of "Pong," is but one of the games available through that is designed to keep healthy adults over the age of 35-years-old mentally sharp and alert. Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell has signed on as an advisor and chief game visionary. "First Arkansas News" readers who sign up for the service can get a discounted rate by typing in a special code (read the article for details on that).

It seems that Nolan Bushnell makes a habit of popping up fairly regularly with a new project. The latest project in which Bushnell is involved is, a Los Angeles company that launched just Wednesday for the purpose of providing stimulating games to healthy adults who are over the age of 35-years-old in hopes of helping them stay mentally sharp and alert.

Bushnell first made headlines when he co-founded Atari Inc., launched the coin operated video game industry in 1972 with the release of Pong and helped start the home video gaming market with the release of the Atari VCS (later called the Atari 2600) in 1977.  Of course, Bushnell has been involved with some other highly visible projects over the years, such as forming the original Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurants where kids could eat pizza and play video games.

It should, perhaps, surprise no one that Bushnell is again involved in a company that’s using technology in a unique way. Elizabeth Amini, who is a former scientist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and has a background in cognitive science, said the concept behind is fairly straightforward — there are a number of studies out there that show that adults who remain mentally active may well ward off mental atrophy, dementia, memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses associated with the mental deterioration that is associated with aging.

Refreshing, indeed, is Amini’s assertion that her company isn’t touting video games as a cure for Alzheimer’s. Refreshing, too, is her insistence that people do follow medical advice closely and her assertion that her company’s games are but one tool that people can use to stimulate their minds.

Amini said her company focuses on the preventative side of things. The games and daily brain fitness tips available through are designed to keep the brains of healthy adults active. The theory, of course, is that mental stimulation may be one key to warding off mental degradation later in life and that incorporating the best lifestyle improvement tips may help reduce risk and help improve your chances of getting older in an active, productive and independent way.

Amini said it’s one thing to cure a disease and a completely different one to work to prevent one from taking hold in the first place. She summed up the preventative path her company follows succinctly in a news release.

“The scientific community is making great strides in understanding what happens to our brains as we age.  The good news is the adult brain does not stop developing, as had long been believed, and scientists are identifying a wide range of things— like regular exercise, socializing and engaging in mentally-stimulating activities—that can potentially maintain and even improve brain performance as we age,” she said.  “ provides tools and information that can help reduce the risk of early memory loss and enable people to live full and productive lives.”

Bushnell, in the same news release, said the company is continuing the development of video games he envisioned years ago.

“It has been disappointing to watch videogames become increasingly violent and complicated over the years and lacking in fun, socially engaging and educational features.  I have long believed that video and computer games could be highly effective, fun educational tools and I am pleased to see more activity on that front,” he said.

Amini said the company is doing more than just finding ways to keep people entertained and mentally stimulated with video games — 20 percent of its pre-tax profits from the company go to organizations engaged in Alzheimer’s preventative research and to other groups engaged in improving lives around the world.

What does it take to run the games? All that’s needed is a modern computer based on a modern operating system — Linux, Mac or Windows — and an Internet connection. The games are played in an Internet browser through an interface that tracks the progress of players and where subscribers select games and find new ones as they are released. Mobile content is on the way for Apple iPhone and Android, too.

There are more than just games through the service. Amini pointed out there are relaxation applications designed to help subscribers kick back and recharge as they get a bit of rest. The initial applications will expand as the site just launched and more titles are under development.

Amini said subscribers are encouraged to play games for 15-30 minutes, two to four times a week for best results. Subscribing costs $12.99 per month, but new members get a free month and can cancel at any time. Amini made a special offer for First Arkansas News readers — when signing up for the service, use “FirstArkVIP” for your VIP code and you’ll get locked into the discounted price of $9.95 for as long as you are a member.

Amini said Bushnell has made himself available to the scientists and game designers, adding its a true asset to have a video game pioneer working on the project.

“He’s amazing to work with,” she said. “Just so much fun.”

Again, First Arkansas News readers wanting to join the service can get the discounted rate of $9.95 per month by keying in “FirstArkVIP” for the VIP code. Subscribers get a free month for signing up and can cancel at any time.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =

One Comment »

  • ??????????????? said:

    This is a very good tip especially to those fresh to
    the blogosphere. Short but very precise information… Appreciate your sharing
    this one. A must read post!

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