Lot #313
Atari 'I, Robot' Market Research Player Survey Reports from the collection of David Sherman

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Estimate: $800+


Two early stapled Atari, Inc. focus group / player survey summary reports for ‘Ice World,’ the development code name for the innovative arcade shooter game I, Robot, which derived from the personal collection of Atari hardware designer David Sherman. Both reports are stamped as “Confidential” and were organized by Atari’s Coin-Operated Games Division for “Marketing Research.”

The earlier report, conducted on November 4, 1982, at Nichol’s Consumer Recruiting, summarizes the findings of two focused research groups in order to obtain initial player reaction to ‘Ice World’ among frequent arcade video game players in Santa Clara County. The first group consisted of younger players, aged 15 to 19, and the second group consisted of players over 20 years old. This earlier report is thus much more comprehensive and contains several sections related to the player experience and their initial thoughts and suggestions, touching on aspects like game concept, uniqueness, graphics, points of confusion, and more.

According to Sherman: ‘This gameplay was not much shooting and was oriented towards collecting ‘gold bars’ similar to other familiar ‘Pac Man’ style games but with more sophisticated gameplay. The early state caused confusion for players and led to development going to shooting and the addition of the transporter feature so players could see different enemies without playing through earlier levels. Reviews for the game were middling, but the graphics produced by the hardware was recognized as unique by players.’

The second report was conducted on February 17, 1984, at Merlin’s Castle in San Jose, California, where the game “was observed for a total of nine and one-half hours during times of high player traffic. Game times were recorded for 63 games observed on Saturday. A total of 39 interviews were completed.” Similar to the earlier report, both positive and negative attributes were recorded, as were areas like points of confusion, action and variety, boring aspects, likelihood to play again, comparisons to current popular games, and more. Also included is an Atari schematic entitled “Project Development Flow Chart Draft.”

Sherman: ‘This was an overall good reception against a strong list of new games in the arcade. The theme of the new 3-D look being something players needed to adjust to was again seen in the report; making the view change easier was added to help that transition, as were additional instruction sequences.’ In overall fine condition.

From the Collection of David Sherman

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Science and Technology
  • Dates: #650 - Ended December 15, 2022