Sunday, April 13, 2008

Video Games Frustrations

I am not a big gamer, but I used to enjoy blowing money on video games when I was in Jr. High. My first introduction to video games happened when I was a little kid visiting my cousins and they had just purchased a Pong game. I was amazed at how cool it was. There were tons of options with the pong game such as paddle size. Several years later my own family was lucky enough to get an Atari 2600. The technology was light years ahead of pong. I got good very good at Space Invaders, Missile Command, Tank, Breakout, and Centipede. It has been a long time since I last played video games (a quarter century to be exact) so I was in for a rude awakening when I realized what changes had occurred in the industry.

My first experience happened while playing mortal kombat against a ten year old. I could not make sense of the complicated controller because there were way too many buttons and options, so all I could do was jump up and down and run backwards. Needless to say this does not describe any martial art so I got my butt kicked. I remember the feeling of being defenseless and powerless in the presence of a little kid who I knew I could probably take in real life. It all comes back to the joystick. Give me one black stick and one orange button. Let's keep it simple. I could probably learn to play the violin faster than I could learn how to work a modern day game controller.

My second unpleasant experience occurred when I was describing the the glory days of Atari to my kids. I had told them stories about how cool the games were, but when they actually saw what the graphics looked like they mocked me. They asked "is that tower of Legos supposed to be a person?" It went beyond mocking to uncontrolled hysterical laughing and then they kept asking "Are you serious?" It hurt to hear their critical words, but deep down I knew they were right.

My third bad experience came from trying to play war strategy games like War Craft and Star Craft. These games are way too complicated. You have to start a civilization from scratch. You can't do anything until you grow crops, mine for ore to make weapons, pay taxes, get zoning permits, hold elections for city council, etc. Space Invaders never did that to me. I would just watch for the aliens and fire. The other thing that bugged me was cheats. It seems that all the games these days have some stupid code that can make you invincible and it spoils the fun.

My fourth bad experience is a more recent one. I enjoy looking up youtube highlights from the NBA. I recommend their daily top 10 plays. Sometimes I will click on a box that says something like "Vince Carter monster dunk". I am looking forward to seeing the action then I realize it is a stupid video game! Who puts video game highlights on youtube? What really makes me mad is the graphics are so good today that you can't tell by looking at the small box if it is real footage or a video game or not until you start watching it.

Looking back I have to admit that my memories of how great things were may have been biased and have probably improved in my memory over time. After reviewing the evidence I have to say the new generation of video games are far superior. I will be the first to admit that technology is much better today than it was in the 80's, but I will never say that about the music. I will go head to head against anyone when it comes to defending 80's music, but there is no need to do so now since I'm sure that will be a future topic.


MikkSolo said...


Come to my house and play X BOX! You need it!


Beckalita said...

I only feel badly that you missed out on the multiplication game we had on the TI. It ROCKED!!

Maui said...

I was just rocking some 8-bit Atari 2600, Donkey Kong the other night.

You need to watch the movie King of Kong, awesome documentary!!!!

RR said...

What, no comments about all the cool StarWars games? I'm disappointed and disillusioned at the same time. I need a Chik-o-stick, pronto.