Atari's console suicide left PS4 and Xbox to prosper, says founder

Fallen gaming giant's founder wishes he could go back in time and take a vacation

Work-life balance is something Bushnell sees a lot of people getting wrong: "There's this thing that happens in Silicon Valley now where the exception is that the kids are not screwed up."

Live and learn

"I like to do something completely different every year of my life"

Bushnell, who has just given a keynote at the O2 Campus Party in London, starts the interview visibly exhausted, but his enthusiasm for his current project - an adaptive learning game called BrainRush that is straight out of Ender's Game, and which adapts to each person using it, and has already proven itself a remarkably effective tutor - is palpable.

"In every business that has been a success in my life, there has been this point when I knew it was the right thing at the right time. Not just thinking but knew - and that point happened about nine months ago with BrainRush.

"I started getting results back and found out that the game was teaching kids 10 times faster. When you start on any project and think, 'If I can go two to one better then I've got a business,' then when you are doing it 10 times as fast it's incredible.

"You know that if you don't make a good business out of it then you are an idiot. Hang it up, go home."

My robot

Bushnell's current crop of projects includes immersive theatre, and a South Park-a-like animation for YouTube that will use Machinama and appeal to his tech friends. He's also helping some friends with an idea for an internet connected toilet that gathers medical data from your excretions.

"I like to do something completely different every year of my life," he tells us.

But he does have a regret that he hopes to assuage within the next few years - building a personal robot.

"I have got to do a personal robot otherwise all the money I've lost trying to do a personal robot in the past, instead of being an education, will be a loss.

"I think the technology is almost there. You know, low-power processing and sensoring is getting really good, and all the things that used to be hard but not impossible are now becoming easy and cheap.

"Look at accelerometers and gyroscopes now - that's a 20 cent chip. I mean, Jesus Christ, the accelerometers we had in the first Etak prototype were 300 bucks and they weren't as accurate as the ones that were in the iPhone. That was 10 years ago."

You can't but wonder just what would have happened if Bushnell had managed to take a break back in 1976. But his enthusiasm for pushing on to the next big thing suggests that even running a gaming giant would not have been enough to capture his full attention.