Ball and paddle

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Volleyball! for the Odyssey 2.

Ball and paddle is a genre of video game where players control paddles which are used to bounce balls around. This genre gave rise to the block breaker and catcher genres.


Although my family had an Atari 2600 in the mid-1980s with dozens of games and paddle controllers, we didn't actually own any ball and paddle games for it. Although I was aware of pong-like games, I never really played any because the genre was fully obsolete by the time I was old enough to play games. Because of this, the first ball and paddle games I played were block breakers and catchers. I remember programming my own versions of Pong in QuickBASIC and Visual Basic in the mid-1990s, and occasionally playing free demos. I even remember reading about Atari's Video Olympics, which I thought sounded amazing (when I finally saw the game years later, I was disappointed). Pretty much all of the traditional ball and paddle games I've played quickly bored me.


The ball and paddle genre began in 1958 with William Higinbotham's Tennis for Two, but it was commercialized in 1972 with several games for the Odyssey like Table Tennis, and a few months later with Pong in the arcade. The genre exploded in the mid-to-late 1970s with over 1,000 Pong clones and variants thanks to Atari figuring out how to put Pong on a single chip. While developers kept making them well into the 1980s, the genre pretty much died at the end of the 1970s. Although programmers still make ball and paddles games, they're now usually done as programming tutorials and never published.


There aren't any ball and paddle games that are important to me. For all ball and paddle games, see the category.