Friday, February 27, 2009

A (not so) brief history in Videogaming!

Since writing GAMER GIRL, I've had a lot of you writing to me and asking me if I play videogames. The answer is a resounding YES! I love games. In fact, I consider myself quite the Gamer Girl myself!

It all started when I was about six years old. My friend got an ATARI 2600. One of the very first home videogame systems ever. Here's what it looked like:

The cartridges had exciting pictures on them - like this one, ADVENTURE, one of the very original RPG videogames.

But the graphics left something to be desired...

Then my parents bought a personal home computer!! How novel. No one I knew had an actual computer in their home!! It was an Apple IIe and looked like this:

Now there were some games on the Apple IIe, but mostly they were rip-off games from arcade favorites. Like this one, Canyon Climber, which is basically a Donkey Kong rip.

So instead, I started getting into what were called "Text Adventure Games." They were created by a company called Infocom and the first one was a game called Zork.

These games had NO graphics. They were almost like reading a story with you as the main character. You'd get a line of description and then a cursor, where you had to type in what you wanted to do next.

Here's a screenshot from ZORK II. (The series eventually spawned lots of sequels and a bunch of other text adventure games.) As you can see, the description is in upper/lower case and the player's commands are in uppercase.

It probably doesn't look all that compelling, but trust me, it is!! You have to solve these crazy complex puzzles to move forward in the game and there was no Internet back them to look up cheats! I played these types of games for hours and hours at a time. LOVED THEM!

Back then they cost $50 a pop. Now you can play them free online. I highly suggest you try one - even if just for a minute or two. You'll be learning an important part of videogame history - where games became stories you needed your brain for as well as just programs of skill.

As I grew older, games became more sophisticated and graphics got better. One of my favorite games in that next generation, was a little known game called BELOW THE ROOT. It was based on a children's book by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.

The graphics, for the time, were awesome! And the storyline was dark and disturbing and creepy. It's futuristic distopian society kind of story...very Scott Westerfeld'esque.

Graphics eventually got better and by the time I was out of college, there was a puzzle game called MYST, with brilliant landscapes. It was sort of ZORK, if ZORK were made of pictures instead of text. Very challenging to solve the puzzles, but the word was so vivid - it was completely addicting.

Quite a difference in graphics, huh? Of course that's about 10 years in game development. Can't list EVERY game I played here - just the memorable ones.

After a time period where those types of games were all in vogue, the US released an anime-like game series that was huge in Japan. FINAL FANTASY.

My favorite Final Fantasy game was #8. (I know, most people like #7 the best!)Here's the opening trailer. So dynamic! And I just fell in love with the characters as I played.

Final Fantasy is an RPG, but it's single player. Later I started getting into multi-player RPGs like Dungeon Seige and even massive multi-player online RPGS - like Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft!

World of Warcraft

I was COMPLETELY addicted to World of Warcraft for about two and a half years. Played all the time, had two level 70 characters (which was the highest you could go before the latest expansion.) I loved the game and met many friends online.

But in the end, I realized I needed to concentrate on other things - the game is a total time suck! - and I needed to get my books written and turned in! So I gave up the game. I still have my characters and play occasionally, but nothing like what I once did.

Now I play mostly console games. Metal Gear Solid 4, Fallout 3, House of the Dead, Dance Dance Revolution - those kinds of games. They've sure come a long way from that first RPG on the Atari, that's for sure! But the more things change, the more they stay the same. In the end, you want the same things now as you did way back then - good game play and a good story!

And that's a brief history of me, as Gamer Girl!



Anonymous said...

i have played ddr universe 3, and ddr supernova! Ilove both when they create new ones, i go crazy!

Ddr forever!

Anonymous said...

i have also played harvest moon island of happiness, ds cute, and now have ruin factory 2 it's so awsome!

stasia said...

have you played kingdom hearts? it's a really fun game...

(zomg, i LOVE ff viii! Irvine's my favorite character.)

Marianne Mancusi said...

I never played Kingdom of Hearts but I've heard great things about it. I know it's made by the makers of Final Fantasy so I'm sure I'd love it. Also, I love Disney!!!


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Anonymous said...

You have terrible tastes