Google Doodle Honoring Gaming Legend Jerry Lawson Lets You Make Your Own Games

Today's Google home page doodle nods to a legend that every avid gamer owes thanks to. Gerald "Jerry" Lawson, who would be celebrating his 82nd birthday today, led the team of engineers and developers responsible for creating the first video game console that uses changeable game cartridges in the 1970s (via NPR). Lawson's console was called Channel F (the F standing for Fun), and it's referred to by NPR as the "precursor" to modern-day household consoles like Xbox and PlayStation

Google's doodle celebrates Lawson's legacy by giving users a brief history of Lawson's accomplishments, then offering several Mario- and Pong-reminiscent minigames. After finishing the games, users can edit them, laying their paths and obstacles to create a game all their own. You can even start with a completely blank game slate, weaving enemies, goal flags, and keys through your own network of paths and trick blocks. Even better, the doodle is set to a lively score of the nostalgic, synthy, upbeat music one can only associate with quarter arcades and Ataris. Be sure to share your Google doodle game on social media so everyone can have a try at your creation!

Lawson was 'the father of modern gaming'

Lawson was one of only a couple of Black engineers working in '70s-era Silicon Valley. A huge fan of science fiction books and movies, Lawson had a boundless imagination. His work earned him the title of "the father of modern gaming" (via GoogleDoodles/YouTube). His tech legacy actually started with him tinkering with TVs as a teenager and grew to a garage computer and game creation lab with each computer "the size of a refrigerator," Lawson's son, who was inspired by his dad to become a computer scientist, told NPR. 

Lawson's kids also joke that they were the first to do the classic "blow on the game to make it work again" move, as lint from the carpet in their house often stuck to the interchangeable cartridges, they said in the Google Doodle video. Lawson passed away in 2011 at the age of 70, but his work certainly lives on — for today, in the Doodle designed by Atlanta-based artist and illustrator Lauren Brown — and for forever in the roots of the modern consoles we take for granted.