Today’s kids have no idea what led up to the immersive computer game experiences they take for granted these days. If it weren’t for the beta toys of my gen, they’d have none of it. The following is a rough sample of some of the earlier tech I’ve worked with before the current stuff.
Back in the early 1980s, I was big on (and committed serious paper route profits to) coin-op games like Asteroids, Zaxxon, Sinistar, Bosconian, and Galaga. I had access to a Trash-80 and PET2000 in Junior High (both with the leaderless cassette drives) and owned the TI-99/4a minus “the expansion box” (aka “the rest of the computer”). For a while I even got to play around with a Timex Sinclair. At the same time at home, I also had a 2600, store-used 5200, Intellivision, and a Colecovision (with the deluxe four-finger controllers).
While reverse engineering programs like “Eliza,” I played a lot of “SpaceWarp” and “Pyramid.” Oh, the hours spent falling into a hole and dying in the dark because you couldn’t find the vending machine in the middle of the labyrinth, drop coins into, and buy fresh batteries for your flashlight. In high school, the computer lab at school had Apple IIs and IIes (and even one IIc). By college, IBM personal computers were getting into computer labs while the Apple Amiga and amber-screen Compaqs came onto the scene.
Since then, I’ve played other people’s console games but was too busy with computer, writing, and other stuff to play many of them (“Konker’s Bad Fur Day” was one of my favorites). Computer games were more accessible and (until the most recent consoles came out) generally had better and more sophisticated game play (Diablo and Diablo II). While WOW just seems like so much of a do-nothing machine that I can’t justify committing serious time to (and I’ve tried it about four times), I’m anxiously awaiting “Diablo III” and fully intend to put life on hold long enough to get some serious demonslaying done!
(Inspired by “When the MCP Was Just A Chess Program” by Wil Wheaton)