Article - By CheekyCrissy
It started out as a dot, a literal square white DOT, against a black background, that bounced off the corners of your TV Screen, two players take control of vertical RECTANGLES either side of the screen, batting it back and forth
The game in question was PONG, on an Atari 2600 and like most earlier Atari games, graphics were little in the way of detail, so your brain had to fill in the blanks somewhere.
I remember playing Space Invaders with my family over Christmas, and it was played over this big tube set, with wooden finish that you would never see today, adorned with China Ornaments of animals and family picture frames placed at the top of it.
The TV was very much a part of the furniture back then, but I remember being seven years old, with my family of Uncles and Aunts taking up so much space on the sofa, that I had to sit cross legged on the floor, to wait my turn to play on my own Christmas Present!
It was such a new thing, it was like trying VR for the first time, we are taking CONTROL of a thing on TV and MAKING it DO stuff. That was mind blowing to my family at the time.
We were in awe of ‘Space invaders’ with its row of oddly shaped characters, slowly but menacingly coming down the screen to attack your ship below.
(Until I visited a local arcade some years later, I had NO IDEA how popular this game was!)
Around that time, gaming was just this gimmick, it was new craze. It wasn’t taken that seriously until much later on and it was considered by most people to be aimed mostly at children. (Though some adults in families probably snuck downstairs late at night to play)
Atari TV commercials dominated the TV during weekdays and TV celebrities or variety show comedians or personalities ‘pretended’ to play on something they barely understood.
I totally got it, I embraced it and just went through this change.
These days my youngest brother would laugh at me for playing 1985’s ‘Commando’ through Capcom Stadium on my Xbox. “Why do they do that stupid DANCE when they die?”
Or his classic line “Stop playing games from 1945!” Until day I silenced him...
“Without these games, you wouldn’t be playing the games that you’re playing today”
And I was right. Something had to become a foundation for what would come later, right?
As years progressed, I watched games like ‘Pacman’, a character that was a Circle, with a wedge missing, to simulate a mouth, that would open and close & ‘Wakka Wakka’ around a maze of dots, to later become fully realised, photo realistic, motion captured characters, with facial features using a variety of expressions that show abroad range of emotions, elicit a response from the player, like a character from a MOVIE. All In the space of 40 some years?
(When you think about it, that’s a really short time...)
I’ve seen genres and sub genres of games emerge, of which I couldn’t even imagine and I couldn’t wait to try out the next game.
In the 80’s and 90’s, I was an arcade junkie, so I was moving back and forth between Arcade gaming and Home Gaming.
I’ve seen the humble Joystick, become a Joypad with an ever expanding array of buttons.
I’ve seen games that took advantage and supported a variety of different sound Systems, from Stereo Hi Fi, to the Surround sound today that you could hear at your local multiplex
I’m now VISITING and exploring fully realised 3D worlds.
(And then talking to other players from all over the world in the same space!)
Via this thing called the Internet
I seen games that dripped in atmosphere, especially the Horror Genre, because in the earlier days of gaming, Magazines mocked the genre for its inability to SCARE.
Well, who’s laughing now? If you’re not jumping three feet into the air from the introduction of that ‘Zombie Dog’ jump scare in ‘Resident Evil’, you can’t be human!
We can’t even mention ‘Horror Gaming’ without putting John Romero’s Genre defining FPS title ‘DOOM’ somewhere. If you were a teenager in the 90’s and you had a Shareware Disk of Doom, or even owned a COPY of it, in your college Dorm or School, you were a GOD. Everyone and ANYONE who had a PC, or just sneaked a disc into work to play it at Lunchbreaks at work, was playing it.
And anyone that denied they played or came across it at all, were lying.
It became a pop culture phenomenon, it was referenced in popular sitcoms and shows, (It was even a movie of which ‘The Rock’ is embarrassed to talk about) It also courted controversy, with parent groups & Politicians lobbying to ban it from Store shelves in the same way to which they did with Midway’s ‘Mortal Kombat’ games.
You were a Space Marine, a Bad Ass, facing your worst fears. Which feels empowering to the player.
It seems tame by today’s standards, but back then, playing it alone, late at night, with the lights off, the soundscape alone made you Pee your pants.
VR was right up there with going to the moon. It definitely took it’s time to be refined and updated, but we really are almost there with the tech.
I remember Gaming publications talking about it, getting all excited and really selling this idea of a player walking into a room and that they were absolutely THERE, in that they could walk up to a table and physically pick up an Apple, or other object.
I was obsessed with ‘3D’ as a boy, from going to movies and reading comic books using Stereoscopic Glasses , even books & Toys with Holograms fascinated me. So, VR to me would be the next step.
Early VR was slow, jerky with heavy Motion sickness thrown in and I’m sure 1st time around, it probably threw a LOT of people off.
We’ve come to a point now in that we can have VR for the home, instead of visiting an Arcade or demonstration. Nintendo tried it with their Virtual Boy, then over a decade later SONY gave us a home console based experience.
Other headsets have followed for PC gamers and even standalone VR (Meta Quest 2) so there is much choice to choose from.
I really embrace changes in how games are presented today and through social media, gamers are right on the pulse now and can talk directly to developers and publishers on what is working and what isn’t.
I’m very much interested in what comes next. Augmented Reality (AR) is still somewhat in it’s infancy but we’re already seeing some early examples of it in gaming ‘Pokemon GO’ comes mind, proving the genre to be a big hit among mainstream gaming and I’m sure there would be more examples of this to come.
VR and AR tech won’t just stop at gaming, it’s already being utilised to hold meetings without physically being there, yet it looks as though everybody is occupying the same room as one another.
I’ve got a nephew that’s about to turn one this year and my mind is already struggling to even imagine the tech HIS generation will possess long after I’m gone. It’s already scary enough watching a Toddler Operate an iPhone with casual ease.
One thing I know for sure, gaming is now so much more mainstream and a readily accepted medium alongside movies, books and TV entertainment, than ever before.
(In fact some can say the lines are blurred between Gaming and Movies)
I still hold a well-grounded belief, in that as long as technology evolves, then surely gaming will evolve somewhere beside it.
And I’ll always be excited by that!
Article - By CheekyCrissy