The Magnavox Odyssey was the first consumer video game console, the pioneering device that presaged a 20-billion-dollar industry. But when it was released in 1972, almost no one outside a handful of American scientists would have known what a video game even was.
This short promotional film was given to Magnavox television dealers in the US in anticipation of the console's release to give them talking points for their consumers. How, exactly, should they explain a video game console?
The vision we see in the ad is very different from the way consoles are marketing and played today; it's not hard to watch it and imagine a different history of gaming.
The console was a device for the whole family.
There was a heavy emphasis on how, exactly, to set up and use the device.
You operated it with little knobs.
And while the dials and knobs controlled little pricks of light, you actually had to lay down a mat on the TV to get a specific background.
You could even buy an optional, creepily realistic rifle.
Despite the video, the Odyssey was a failure, in large part because Magnavox salesmen themselves didn't know how to properly market the device as a separate category of electronics—they saw it as little more than a one-off gadget.