Do you remember the first time you sat down in front of a video game? When the world on the other side of that black screen came to life and interacted with you for the very first time? Heaven help me as I’m about to date myself, but I think I must have been in junior high when my father brought home a bulky box and hooked the thing up to our big tube television. My sister and I sat there mesmerized, watching him, wondering what he was doing. My father was always big on the surprises. Well, in little time I perched Indian style on the floor with the controller in my hand smacking a tiny little ball across the screen. Bink, bink, bink. That’s right, you guessed it. It was pong! And I LOVED that game.
When that game first came out, who didn’t sit in front of the television for as long as their parents would allow and whack that little square “ball” back and forth? I sure as heck did. I could go forever on one game. The ball would start moving faster and faster in an attempt to outwit me and knock me out!
It wasn’t long before Atari came along, giving us options on the types of games to play. My dad didn’t rush out and get us this system. Sadly he made us wait for the 5200 series. But my husband and his brother saved up all their nickels and dimes to buy one of the original systems – the 2600. It was a big deal. The thing still sits in a box in our garage.
This was soon followed by the video arcade wave. They sprang up everywhere. There was one not too far from my high school that became a popular stop. I would drop quarter after quarter into the Pac-Man machine, eating blue dot after blue dot. Ten years back I tried to talk my husband into a cocktail version of this game for our home. He didn’t go for it. I haven’t given up hope!
An original full sized Star Wars co-op arcade game used to own prime real estate in our family room before our move. Why? Because video games and arcade games have become ingrained in the family history – and with them lots of memories of pure enjoyment. It’s unfortunate that Star Wars didn’t fit in our new home. It was such a great game. Back in the day, my husband was local champ on the game. On one quarter, he could play for hours on that bad boy – of course.
Today video games have come a long way from the games I was introduced to as a youth. They come to life with detailed realism, and you become part of the action. I can now be out there in the action without any real fear of harm coming to my body. That’s pretty awesome! I can kill zombies or play in a world with magical creatures.
When my son asks, “Hey mom, want to play a game?” He can still whoop my butt in seconds flat when playing his games of choice – Halo or Portal 2. Get on the Wii with Mario and forget about it. I am driving in a ditch while he finishes the race. Is it just me or is it impossible for us older generation to drive with a steering wheel in midair without the feel of the road beneath you?
But it’s good to let my kid pulverize me and spend this quality time with him. My husband will get on the game and go a few rounds with him as well. Yes, I hear those of you that say my kid should be outside running around. But as an Asperger he fights it. He gets his outdoor time and he gets his game time as well. Fighting depression as he does, it’s important we keep him uplifted. And games do that for him. It’s all kept in check.
It’s a bonding experience between family and friends, similar to what Kristen Lamb explains in her blog Gears of War–Playtime, Obsession, Foundation of a Happy Marriage. Video games help bring people together. Now with Xbox Live, my son can play with his friends in private parties when he is at home. It keeps him safe from the open world of Xbox and gets him connected to those relationships that lift him up. Anyone dealing with an Asperger understands the importance of that. Relationships don’t always come easy for them.
I have been thinking about video games a lot lately. You see, video games are what put food on our table, clothes on our back, and pay our mortgage. Or at least, the work my
better half does on them. Sometimes this work can turn our lives a little upside down, but in a good way.
Things have been crazy busy because my husband’s life these past two years have belonged to another – a fire breathing dragon. But I’ll get to that in a minute. It’s because of this craziness that I know the gaming industry is about to change the rules on us game players. Not in a bad way, but in a very good and exciting way. In fact, I predict everyone will be following suit and you’ll start to see it in games across the board. This Sunday the 16th marks the release of the new game called Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. Yes, the game my husband worked on that I am not above taking a minute to pimp.
Are you ready for this? Your kids are going to love it. How do I know this? Because my kids have already given this amazing game a serious test drive. A perk of living with one of the people in charge. Even my five year old can’t get enough! An added bonus, it has my kids playing together in harmony. Who would have imagined?
The game is played with collectable toys, and these toys are the heroes of the game world. They’re known as Skylanders. By placing the toy of your choice on the Portal of Power (connects with your game system), the Skylander is magically brought to life in the game! Switch the toy = switch the character you are playing. But the magic doesn’t stop there. This is the part I think is really cool…
The engineers behind this project have worked hard and long to bring you something I think we can all truly appreciate – compatibility. When you are playing Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure on your Xbox 360, all the level-ups, upgrades, treasure, and such
are remembered by the toy because they are alive and have little brains! Smart little buggers. If you decide you want to go play the game at your friend’s house and they have a Wii, no problem! Take your collectable toy and place it on their portal. Your leveled up Skylander will come to life with all the upgrades, experience level, etc. The toys work
across any of the major game systems. Is that amazing or what?
It’s a far cry from the version of Dig Dug or Centipede my friends and I used to play in the back corner of our local pizza hang-out. This game is groundbreaking and innovative. Think about it – taking two things kids love – video games and toys – and bringing them together for the first time. And where will games go from here? Are the digital reality games like V-World or New Cap City seen on SyFy channel’s Caprica so far off? Will Gears of War soon be literally inserting the player in the thick of it? It really makes you wonder…
Where do you see the future of video games going? At what point and with what game did your electronic ride begin? Is your story similar to mine or are you part of the younger generation that started with something much more sophisticated? I look forward to hearing from you.