Video Games: The Movie is out on Netflix. As a past gamer (not one currently), I found this documentary incredibly entertaining. It delved into all aspects of the industry, from the history, to the games that made it or flopped (E.T. on Atari, and how), to the development of systems, to the current gamer and competitions, to the future. It originated as a kickstarter project, but got lots of great interviews with Nintendo, Atari, Microsoft, and Sci-Fi royalty, including Will Wheaton , and my favorite video/life-game visionary: Earnest Cline (Cline wrote Ready Player One a novel about Virtual Reality [VR], and how it came to connect the entire planet since you could use it for education, shopping, virtual relationships, and escape – great book, check it out – I think will be reality before we’re all too old).
Anyways, I spent a lot of my youth playing games with my family (including my dad), my brothers (lots of time logged), and my friends (grade school through college). Here are some of the highlights:
- Pong – my dad had a pong machine. I remember the cylindrical paddles and playing different variations of the pong game
- Atari 2600 – Another dad purchase. We played this system so much we got blisters on hour hands (including the palm). Not the most ergonomic of controllersI remember the following games most: Space Invaders, Combat, Pac-man, Breakout, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Pole Position, Frostbite (maybe my favorite), Chopper Command
- Nintendo Entertainment System – so many here, maybe my favorite console: Excite Bike, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, Duck Hunt, Super Mario Bros (1, 2, and 3), Mega Man, Contra (who can forget the code?), Metal Gear, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, Tecmo Bowl (and Super Bowl [see here for PC emulator of 2013 version for those nostalgic], who can remember the awesomeness of the original though: 4 plays to choose from; LT, Bo Jackson, Ronnie Lott, Walter Payton,Marino, Dickerson, Largent, Herschel Walker)… where was I? Oh yeah, Nintendo. Baseball Stars was the shit, Bionic Commando, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, Zelda, Double Dragon, Kung Fu, Spy Hunter, Dragon Warrior, Ice Hockey (with the three choices of players: skinny, fast, but fell down when they encounterd a divot; medium; and fat, slow, but great checkers). So much Awesome with Nintendo
- Sega original system – one of my friends had this and we played a lot of California Games, Sonic, Afterburner,and Marble Madness.
- Super NES: Street Fighter II, Final Fantasy II, Super Mario Cart, Zelda. That’s all you needed on this console. NBA Jam was fun too (You’re on FIRE!)
- Sega Genesis: Didn’t have this, but all I remembered is Sonic, Shinobi, and Altered Beast.
- Playstation: Crash Team Racing, Syphon Filter, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, and Silent Hill rounded out some of the memorable ones.
- N64: Mariocart and Goldeneye were the only games I played, often drunk after the bars.
- We received a Playstation 2 as a wedding present and played it for over a decade. It was also the first console my kids played on. Many games of Madden, Crash Team Racing, Tony Hawk, Sly Cooper Thievious Raccoon, the God of War series blew me away. Later, when kids got in the mix, the Lego games became mostly what we played: Lego Indiana Jones, Lego Star Wars, and Lego Batman. I never got into the time sucking RPGs on this console, and was just playing quick games of carting or platformers or sports as I found time.
- Playstation 3: We’ve had this one for a year or two now, and it’s a nice step up from the PS2, but we mostly play Lego games still (Marvel and DC, Harry Potter, Star Wars is still a hit), along with Little Big Planet (including their carting game) and the Disney Infinity. I have a bunch more my brother gave me, including Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty, but they aren’t kid appropriate and I simply don’t have time to invest – or that is, I feel my unwinding time is more rewarding when I spend it on on other endeavors like reading or writing.
As parents, we allow our kids to play age appropriate games. I never enjoyed first person shooters (murder simulation), and the few I played (like Goldeneye on N64) I was awful at. Videogames are like interactive movies in a lot of cases, and ones like Minecraft have some very creative and imaginative value that I can see. But I can see how it sucks other creative energy out just staring at the screen for hours, instead of making up games, or doing crafty inventing things (like Birdsnest does so frequently), or sucks the life out of relationships. While none of my friends really play videogames, I’ve heard of others whose relationships suffer because games are the after-work focus (especially in-depth interactive games like World of Warcraft) and take the place of quality time.
Still, they have their place in our entertainment Rolodex, and they are here to stay. If you are a past gamer, check out that Video Game documentary I mentioned at the start. It was fun to relive some of those great memories, and I’m sure my own children will recall to their future kids how they were playing blocky Minecraft games on a flat computer screen while their children walk around with VR goggles on a 3-D simulator platform. Evolution of games and this media will be very interesting to see in the next 20 years. Our generation was the first raised on games, and the change in our lifetime in this media will be unprecedented.
Looks like a cold, video game kind of day to me. Enjoy your weekend.