Atari VCS
Image: Kevin Bidwell

Reading some US-centric accounts of the "great" video game crash of 1983, you'd be mistaken for thinking that the UK was also wrapped up in the disaster that ended up drastically shrinking the home console market across North America, but nothing could really be further from the truth.

A big part of the reason for this was due to the dominance of home computers (as opposed to home consoles) in the region. This included most notably the ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, and Commodore 64. These machines typically entered the homes under the pretense of being a personal computer for the whole family but were used by many primarily as a platform for gaming.

Recently, we've been reading through some old magazines to see how the press reacted to the video game crash at the time, and something we wanted to explore is "How did UK magazines cover the video game crash, if at all?" And funnily enough, while we could find countless references across US magazines, the only clear reference to the crash we came across was in Computer Video & Games Issue 25 from November 1983, in an article called, "Is This The End Of The Great Video Game Boom?"

This article references the recent trend in the US where "sales of low cost micros have plummeted and the market for TV games has all but vanished" and also argues the UK might follow by December of the same year. But, by the end of the article, the fear-mongering appears to stop, with the magazine mentioning enthusiastically that British gamers may see cheaper software from the American company Commodore, thanks to the ongoing price war.

After that, the crash is barely mentioned in UK magazines from the period at all, with one less direct reference being found in Personal Computer Games Magazine Issue 03 from February 1984, in the two-paragraph article called "Atari Breakout". This article refers to Atari as an "ailing video game giant" and reports on the formation of Atarisoft, an attempt at recovery whereby it would start making its own conversions to its games for other micro computers.

Growing up in the UK, it was always weird seeing dramatic accounts from US writers and YouTubers about how video games had temporarily disappeared off the face of the planet until the Nintendo Entertainment System emerged a few years later. Especially if you speak to the people who lived through it in the UK, they'll probably just ask you "What crash?" and start telling you about all the games that they were playing at the time.

What games were you playing during the video game crash? Let us know in the comments!