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'Us vs. Them' and the LaserDisc Debacle of 1984

Warren Davis  (Software Engineer, Independent)

Location: Room 2002, West Hall

Date: Wednesday, March 22

Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Design, Programming

Format: Lecture

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

With the appearance of Dragon's Lair in 1983, it seemed that LaserDisc games were poised to be the future of the arcade industry. Within months, a slew of LaserDisc-based video arcade games from multiple manufacturers flooded the market. Warren Davis, coming off the success of Q*bert, worked on one such game, Us vs. Them, intended as a kit for the hugely popular M.A.C.H. 3.

But despite every indication that Us vs. Them was headed for record sales and widespread acclaim, LaserDisc games became reviled and shunned—orders were canceled, lawsuits were filed, and the arcade industry suffered a major crash. Why? What were the factors that led to this turnaround? Warren dives into the making of Us vs. Them and how the bottom fell out of the industry just as it was about to be released.


Attendees will enjoy an entertaining history of the introduction and ultimate rejection of LaserDisc games within the arcade industry, as well as a technical description of how one particular game, Us vs. Them, broke new ground but fell victim to the LaserDisc's fall from grace.

Intended Audience

This is for anyone with an interest in video game history, as well as those interested in the technical aspects of making a LaserDisc game.