Hot-Tub Time Machine

Atari's all-star game designers aim for a sequel

Gregg Segal for TIME

Lyle Rains, Tank. His 1974 multi-joystick game rolled out several sequels. His new target: Angry Birds.

In Silicon Valley in the late 1970s and early '80s, the closest thing to being a rock star was working for Atari. The company that introduced the video game to the masses kept its engineers' creativity flowing with free meals, Friday beer bashes and weekend "gamestorming" retreats on the California coast that featured naked hot-tub parties, fat doobies, food fights, broken coffee tables and locked doors ripped out of their frames. "We partied like hell," says Rob Zdybel, a former Atari console programmer who at 55 still wears his hair shaggy and his vintage T-shirts Grateful Dead.

Thirty years later, the...

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