Scram (video game)

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Scram is the name of two video games, both based around a scram, or emergency shutdown of a nuclear reactor.

Atari 800[edit]

Scram is a game designed by Chris Crawford for the Atari 800 and released by Atari. Written in Atari BASIC, Scram utilized differential equations to simulate reactor behavior. In the game, the player controlled the valves and switches of a nuclear reactor directly with the joystick. Occasionally, earthquakes would occur and the player would analyze the heat readings and dispatch repair crews to the affected area of the plant.

The game display showed a schematic-like representation of a light water reactor, typical of nuclear reactors in use in the United States at that time. The reactor core was on the left of the screen, with the primary coolant loop to its immediate right. Further right was the secondary cooling loop, and finally the tertiary cooling loop and its associated cooling tower.

The user interacted with the game by moving the joystick, which made a cursor jump from one "hot spot" to another on the screen, each one controlling one part of the reactor systems. There were hot spots for the control rods, cooling pumps and valves. The user could experiment with the reactor systems by moving the joystick up and down, operating the equipment. It was possible to simulate a meltdown by shutting off the primary cooling pumps and withdrawing the control rods all the way.

The game had several skill levels, which controlled the frequency of earthquakes and the "obviousness" of the damage. In the event of an earthquake the screen would shake and a breaking sound would be heard if there was damage. The user then had to watch the on-screen displays to try to isolate where the problem was.

DEC Alpha[edit]

Scram is also a similar game written for the DEC Alpha, where the player would control a small astronaut with a jetpack who attempted to trigger all the cooling valves in a nuclear reactor before the levels rose to a critical level. 1-10 can play this game.


Softline in 1981 criticized the documentation of the Atari game, calling it "needlessly wordy and confusing".[1]


  1. ^ Bang, Derek (1981-11). "SCRAM". Softline. p. 26. Retrieved 13 July 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

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