When I was much, much younger, I remember my father taking us to the mall to look at the latest electronics. The selection of electronics, of course, was much smaller at the time. There were plenty of televisions, radios, headsets, and the like. On one particular trip, though, there was something much different. It was Pong for the home. That was my first introduction to video games.
Arcade games had been around for awhile—my brother certainly enjoyed escaping into the dark, noisy interior of the arcades—but we had never seen a personal game, one that could be played at home. My brother and I stared at the television that displayed the minimal graphics for Pong, but we were in awe. Here was something new! And boy, was it flashy!
Some of you younger folks may find it hard to understand how we viewed our first video game. Up until then, our greatest source of entertainment—other than the television, of course—was the board game, or perhaps a card game. The video game offered a solitary entertainment that really couldn’t be found elsewhere. Too, the use of video graphics and audio made it that much more fun for the burgeoning Generation X.
Although we didn’t get Pong on that day, we would later get an Atari and Intellivision over the course of a few years. I quickly found that my brother easily excelled at games like Pitfall and Q*Bert. I, on the other hand, discovered that my desire to “practice” at a game waned over time. I fell back on reading as my dominant pastime as well as playing with our first hand-held game, Merlin.
For us, we were brought up to understand that games should be left behind in childhood. We therefore sold our games and never looked back. I would be surprised during my college years when I saw the first video game since my childhood—the Nintendo. I honestly couldn’t understand how grownups could spend hours playing a video game. I was in shock at the improvement of the graphics in the newer games, along with the audio included. Still, I had no interest. I had classes to take and books to study.
And then came my husband, and later, Facebook. With my husband’s LAN parties, I quickly realized that games were a very serious thing for some people. These parties and the multi-player aspect of the games allowed for a camaraderie that might have been developed in a different way in years past. But for now, they could razz each other even as they shot imaginary creatures. It was good, geeky fun.
For me, I still lacked interest. I couldn’t see spending hours learning to play a game and master it. But Facebook games, well, they were perfect. I could play for as little or as much as I wanted. Too they seemed perfect for my particular personality with a multitude of decorating, farming, and caring opportunities. I graduated from Farm Town to my new favorite, Here Be Monsters.
I certainly would never have expected to be playing such video games as a middle-ager. Back in the 1970’s, we couldn’t have imagined the video games and consoles available today. The digitizing of our entertainment will most likely progress, but I sometimes feel nostalgic about those good old days back when we first were awed by the graphics of Pong.