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Sunday, September 29, 2013


Remember way back then?

My Playstation 3 has seen it's last days.  It broke and went boom.  And now that I don't have it to play with anymore (Don't worry, I'll eventually buy another one.) I found myself thinking back about how the era of video games began during my lifetime.  And about how everything has evolved.  We started out with Pong.  

Neat, huh?  Well, it might not seem so neat right now, but believe me it was really something back when it first came out!  I can remember getting the home Pong game for Christmas one year and I played it for hours!  Yes, I said hours.  *chuckle*  It was new and that made it fun.

We would shop at a place called Grand Central.  It was pretty much Walmart before Walmart was born.  And one of the first arcade machines I ever saw was near the exit of the store.  I loved going to the store just to see these machine!  I would get a glance at them while my mom was checking out at the registers.  The first two games I ever saw were Asteroids and Space Invaders.

This was simple, but much more complicated than Pong.  Again, it was the neatest thing, and it was only a quarter to play!  So now before we would leave the store, I would always ask my mom for a quarter to play the game before we left.  Sometimes she even gave me quarters!

Video arcades began to appear in the malls.  They would have all kinds of games that you could play!  But I think in this blog I'll concentrate on the home games that we had.  My brother and I loved video games and eventually we were given an Atari 2600 console for christmas!  Mom and Dad could only afford a black and white TV to hook it up to, but it still had a lot of cool games!  You would buy the games in cartridge form and then insert them into the Atari to play them.  It came with one game called Combat.  My brother and I loved this and played it quite a bit.  (Imagine this picture in black and white)

Little by little our game collection grew.  Every so often we would get enough money saved up to buy a new game.  One of my real favorites was called Adventure.  You were a dot trying to find a chalice in a castle.  I think you really needed a lot of imagination to play this game.  It had dragons and a sword, and things like that, but really you were just a big dot.  *chuckle*  I usually had to play this in black and white, too.  On a few special occations I was allowed to haul the Atari out of our bedroom and hook it up to the living room TV.  Then I was able to play in color.  That was huge process though.

The first picture was the box the game came in.  Oh that looks neat, doesn't it?  And then below the box is a picture of the real gameplay.  I loved this!  If you watch actual gameplay from Adventure now, it looks horrible.  But that's only because we're now spoiled with much more advanced games.  

And then I joined the U.S. Air Force.  *chuckle*  Now video games kept evolving while I was in the military, but I didn't really get to have any home games for a while.  No games in tech school, but once I got overseas a friend had a home computer.  A Commodore 64!  And he had a some games for it that whole groups of us could play!  We would put in a Bruce Springsteen CD and play things like California Games.

We also loved the olympic type games made by a company called Epyx.  Summer Games...

Or even Winter Games!

You would get to pick the nation you wanted to represent and we would sometimes find it hilarious to pick Middle Easter countries, or even "Eastern Block" countries like Yugoslavia as our home country.

After I had finished my tour of duty overseas and had come back to the United States, I bought myself a Commodore 128.  I don't know exactly what the difference was from the Commodore 64, but it was still a really neat home computer.  I was living in San Antonio at the time and there was this neat little shop in a mall that sold games for the Commodore!  I went there every weekend and the owner knew me pretty well.  I still really loved adventure games and since I had played Dungeons and Dragons in high school (Yes, I'm a nerd.), I had found some Dungeon and Dragon games made for the Commodore.  They were called the "Gold Box Series".  

I bought a LOT of these!  The games came on a 5 inch floppy disk.  The graphics weren't the best, but it was the story that counted, right?  And your characters at least looked kind of like people.  You weren't just a dot like in the Atari 2600 Adventure.

Arcades were still going strong in the malls because even though we had video games that we could play at home now, the arcade games had much better graphics and were a bit more sophisticated.  But that would soon change.  Shortly after I was discharged from the military a game system called Nintendo came out.  It was made by a company with the same name!

While I had been overseas in the military there was an arcade machine on base called Super Mario Brothers.  I had gotten good enough at that game to play it all the way to the end using only one quarter.  Now Nintendo had a home console that could play the game!  And the graphics were just like on the arcade machine!

This was incredible!  I wasn't really hooked quite yet with the first Nintendo console, though.  But then they eventually came out with the Super Nintendo!

I began to get hooked on games with this one.  I also found a console called the Sega Genesis.

I found out that the Super Nintendo had better adventure games, and the Genesis had better sports games.  I really loved the sports games.  The sports games weren't like they are today though, you just had anonymous players that for the most part looked alike playing the game.  I loved Madden Football...

A Madden football game began to come out every year.  Each year would supposedly have new features.  In Madden 93 if you hit someone hard enough, an ambulance would drive out onto the field to get the injured player.  The ambulance would also run over any player in it's way to get the injured guy.  I loved this!  *chuckle*

There was NHL 93.  Again, no player names or anything like that.  But at least they had the real teams.  You couldn't play a season or really develop the franchise or anything, but it was still really fun to play.

Eventually the Genesis became old tech and a new console called the Playstation came out.  I had bought one of those and now played my sports games on it.  They were a bit better than the Genesis and now used CDs instead of a cartridge.

Now games began to get more complicated.  When a new console would come out, people were really taking notice!  When there was a new console coming out it began to be hard to get one on the release day!  A console called Playstation 2 was coming out, but unless you had one pre-ordered somewhere, you couldn't get one.  It was worse than Cabbage Patch dolls!  Everyone wanted one, including me, but the stores just didn't have enough!  There were fights and accusations and stores just couldn't get any to sell!  If a store did get one, it was out the door before they could even put it on a shelf!  Finally though, I did get myself a Playstation 2.

Next, a console called the Dreamcast was coming out.  It was made by Sega, the same company that had made the Genesis.  It looked like it was going to be really good!  On the day the Dreamcast was released I drove over to a nearby Toys R Us and was lucky for them to actually have one available!  So I bought it.

This one was actually a pretty nice console.  Sadly, it didn't last.  They had some really nice games, but games just weren't being developed for it.  And interest dropped off.  But before the Dreamcast faded, they made huge leaps in football games!

These players looked like real people!  They not only had the names of the real players, they had them on the back of their jerseys!  This was from a series called "NFL 2K"  This series was starting to put out better football games than Madden was!  That is until the company EA Sports bought the rights to the NFL players and teams.  That pretty much destroyed NFL 2K.  That's sad too, because they were coming out with some really neat advances.

Moving on, a console called the xbox came out and for the most part, it took the place of my Playstation.  And then the xbox 360 came out.  New fantastic graphics, great gameplay, everything you would want!  And it would even play DVDs!  I bought one of these, but they weren't reliable.  There was a problem called the "red ring of death".  If this happened, your console had died and was then nothing more than a large paperweight.  And of course, this happened to the xbox I had bought.

I ended up buying another xbox 360, but that one died, too.  Even with warranties provided by the place where I was buying the console, it became tiresome to use it for a few months and then have to return it for another one.  So I gave up on my 360.  I still have a large library of games for it that I can't play.  I moved on to the newest Playstation system called Playstation 3.  I had this one for years and for over a decade now, this has been my main game playing system.

Games really began to become realistic on this thing.  A series had been started called "Grand Theft Auto". The first Grand Theft Auto was OK, but really didn't stand out.  It began to really get a story when a game called Grand Theft Auto: Vice City came out.  This one had a few famous actors voicing characters like Ray Liotta!

Yup, the guy from the movie Goodfellas!  He did the voice for the main character and the game had quite a story line!  And the music that was put into the game was 80's gold!  Grand Theft Auto, or GTA as it became to be referred to as, had made it's mark.  The next big game was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.  This delved into gang culture and brought a ton of controversy to the game.  I won't show any pictures here, but if you do a search for GTA hot coffee, you'll see some pictures of a few scenes that were available for the PC version of the game.  The game suddenly had the reputation of letting you do anything you wanted!

Today the newest GTA is just called Grand Theft Auto 5.  I haven't been able to play a whole of this one because my Playstation 3 has died!  I did get just a bit of play and realized that you can pretty much just walk up and punch anyone you want.  That may sound simple, but it's actually pretty amusing!

And so here we are.  I haven't really even touched on the advances in sports games.  I've become interested in soccer now, especially English Premier League soccer.  And there have been really cool advances in those video games.  So what's next?  What can we possibly do to top what we have now?  All we can do is wait and see.  Meanwhile, I'll get a new Playstation 3 and punch a few more people in GTA 5.

And be playstation and xbox consoles are supposed to be released before this Christmas. I'm not sure I want one, though.  I have too many games that I like for the Playstation 3.  Maybe in a few more years though.


  1. We had an Atari when I was in high school. Used to spend hours playing breakout, Night Driver, and space invaders:) We also had the ET game, but my younger sister was better at it and had more patience with it. I never could figure it out.

    An old Nintendo was donated to us when my older two kids were younger. They liked Mario; I found it boring and preferred Jeopardy. Now they have a PS3 and X-box and I don't know how to turn them on, off, or even work them. I did enjoy Mario Kart on the Nintendo....after my kids showed me how to work the controls!

  2. Molly,

    ET is said to be the worst video game in history! There are plenty of other really bad games, but that one was so bad that there are thousands buried in a secret landfill. I may do a blog about the worst of things soon and that game will be one of the examples. *chuckle*