Nolan Bushnell

Photo by Ian White || Behance

Nolan Key Bushnell (born February 5, 1943) is an American engineer and entrepreneur who founded both Atari, Inc. and the Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza-Time Theaters chain. Bushnell has been inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame and the Consumer Electronics Association Hall of Fame, received the BAFTA Fellowship and the Nations Restaurant News “Innovator of the Year” award, and was named one of Newsweek’s “50 Men Who Changed America.” Bushnell has started more than twenty companies and is one of the founding fathers of the video game industry. He is currently on the board of Anti-Aging Games, but his latest venture is an educational software company called Brainrush that is using video game technology in educational software, incorporating real brain science, in a way that Bushnell believes will fundamentally change education. Nolan, who is co-founder and Chairman of Brainrush, believes that Brainrush will be his biggest success.

Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, creator of the video game Pong, 80s franchise Chuck E. Cheese Pizza and an early mentor of Steve Jobs. 

I did this illustration for an article in issue 1 of read_forerunner magazine based on sketches I did of him when I met him in Santa Monica late 2015 . A profoundly fascinating man ! 

A Lighthearted Conversation About Learning Culture

Nolan Bushnell, creator of Atari and CEO of Speed to Learn, sat down with DLD Chairman Yossi Vardi in what turned out to be an entertaining round of equal parts teasing and talk about how to improve today’s learning culture.

Nolan Bushnell’s round with Yossi Vardi was lighthearted and entertaining without losing focus of the issue at hand; computers and education.

Faced with the Vardi’s teasing, Bushnell got a laugh and a half, as the round progressed.

However, Bushnell stayed on course. His views on modern education are perhaps controversial, but the computer game legend does make a compelling argument. 

“ADHD is misspelled - it’s actually boring teacher syndrome,” Bushnell began, outlining his ideas.

The traditional system, he continued, is not up-to-date on what kind of learning processes are needed to keep students engaged.

Here, the education system could learn from computer games. Get rid of lecture and homework, and introduce individual learning styles. Incorporate notions of different learning cultures, and add the power of computers, and you have a winning recipe for an education revolution.

Bushnell’s Speed to Learn initiative aims to do just that. Teachers cannot handle the difficult levels of students, but computers can. Through using software that mimics the structures of computer games, initiatives like Speed to Learn can speed up education processes and help the individual students fulfill their potentials. 

“Matching difficulty with ability,” Nolan said, “Makes teaching fun."