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Video games of the past

We're all different, but we share the types of consoles and games we grew up with; It's always been that way.

A docked white Nintendo Wii.

Evan Amos, photographer for stock images of game consoles.

A docked white Nintendo Wii.

Brandon Ngo, Staff Writer

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When asking how much our childhoods influence who we are now, the answer largely comes down to personal experiences. One thing that can influence your current taste is the entertainment you consumed at a young age. Everyone has had a different experience and have grown up in different families, some might remember playing video games whenever their parents weren’t looking, others could leisurely sink hours of time into what they were playing.

If you have a parent who enjoyed retro gaming, chances are you may own older 2 dimensional 8-bit and 16-bit consoles and early 3-D consoles. However, teens today– being born in the early 2000’s –have generally grown up to see the release of 3-D game consoles like the original Xbox and Xbox 360, the PlayStations 2 and 3, and finally, the Gamecube and the Wii. While criticized for being gimmicky at first, the Wii was a gaming system that made use of remotes and a sensor in front of the screen (not to mention the accessories for the remote) for motion-controlled gaming. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 released motion-gaming components. Xbox Kinect and PlayStation Move, compatible with the more recent console hardware.

Games with motion controls were hit-or-miss, with some that struggled to integrate the controls and have were known as notoriously bad, to more modest, interesting games that turned out well. Many fun party games were released on the Wii and story games didn’t waste time letting you point at the screen and use gestures as game mechanics. A good example is the simple act of shaking the Wii remote to make Mario spin mid-air in Super Mario Galaxy.

Portable gaming consoles like the Gameboy Advance, the Nintendo DS (Dual Screen), the Playstation Portable, which weren’t even the limits of gaming without a TV screen. With the release of smartphones and tablets, mobile games and other entertaining apps started to trend. By this point, minimalistic games had already been on cell phones, like Tetris, Brick Breaker, or Bejeweled, for example.

A trend for computer gaming were MMO’s (Massive Multiplayer Online games) where users could sign onto large servers and play with others in the same world. Some MMO’s were played via flash, and others required for you to download a launcher to play the game directly on your computer. A fair amount of these games were tailored towards children. (I remember playing Poptropica, Club Penguin, and Wizard 101, etc.)

Video games in arcades date as far back as the 1970’s, one of the earliest ones of commercial success being the Atari-released Pong. This is presumably where arcade machines enter the picture in places where there would only have been say, pinball or bowling. Nowadays, arcades all have a variety of video games to choose from; arcade machines you can sit in that usually have a shooting element, racing games that replicate driving a car, even ports of mobile games. (Mainly Flappy Bird, or Crossy Road; games that are minimalistic and addicting.) Seeing the contrast between modern arcade machines which profit off of being fun and addicting and the retro arcade machines which created iconic and competitive games– from fighting games and games like Pac Man –is worth thinking about when looking at popular arcades nowadays. People still beat ludicrous challenges in arcade games, but nowadays there are leaderboards to be topped at home.

Nowadays, the consoles ruling the market are the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the more recently arrived Nintendo Switch (All of them with a myriad of family games.) Nintendo, being a company that appeals to families, announced Nintendo Labo line of cardboard kits and interact with games via motion-control contraptions. As of now, it is recommended that anyone who uses VR is older than 13. If possible, hopefully technology in the coming years can develop and iron out the safety concerns of VR usage. (Including nausea and motion sickness, lack of awareness of objects in the real world, etc. etc.) The thought of feeling your way around a 3-D space and being able to grow up with that sort of experience is a nice one that we’re still figuring out how to develop.

Overall, there have been a lot of milestones in the history of gaming– so much so that it’s difficult to summarize in a small sum of words. It has become a form of entertainment that will keep evolving; it’s probably on the higher end of entertainment at this point. It’s not as easy to put in layman’s terms as music and film. Music is something that you perceive by hearing these melodic and rhythmic sounds, movies and TV entertain us with a linear story that we can watch, and games involve a lot of real-time interaction and contain parts of everything. All of these forms of entertainment have developed one after the other and we’ve come a long way, so I can only ask one question: What’s next?

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Video games of the past