Staying In Touch With Our Gaming Roots
Recently I had the pleasure of being part of a retro gaming night and I had a complete blast walking down memory lane. I got to see a working Dreamcast, Atari, SEGA Genesis and a bunch of other systems I had no idea even existed. Seeing these systems, and everyone have an absolute blast playing them, reignited a passion in me for those old school games.
It was good to be reunited with those good memories of gaming many years ago but let it made me think about how those old school games got where we are today. Where would we be if the original Gauntlet didn't introduce us to the action adventure genre? What if Mortal Kombat had been a complete flop? Imagine if Dreamcast had been a massive hit in the US or if SEGA CD had been a smash hit? Just these minor changes could have changed the landscape of gaming as we know it today.
However, our gaming scene isn’t just about the hardware. I remember long ago I would sit in my brother’s room and we would all take turns playing on the SEGA Channel trying a huge array of different games while trying to get the highest score. So much time was spent fighting viciously for those bragging rights between my brother and his friends. It would be the start of my competitive nature in most video games I come across and why I need to play across so many different games. Undoubtedly this also pushed other people down the same path.
Think of how our competitive gaming must have evolved back then. Gaming started small with champions arising in each household and people wanted to push that victory over neighborhoods, school and eventually into regions and states. All of that undoubtedly lead us down the road of online competitive play we have today. I wouldn’t be sitting here writing about my passion of video games if there weren’t a group of kids sitting in a basement trying to see who was the true champion of Pong or for that group of guys playing Unreal Tournament over LAN.
It doesn’t end there, either. That same SEGA Channel I played back in the day was likely the reason we have high-speed broadband internet right now. Cable companies had to improve their lines in light of the online game system demanding so much from their cables. I am a bit proud that my late night gaming of ToeJam and Earl somehow got some executive to think about improving their data transfer rates.
Speaking of the internet and gaming we can also think back to the first time we ever reached timidly over the internet to connect with someone thousands of miles away in our first online experience. I still remember my first time I ever logged into an online game (Nox) and how that absolutely blew my mind. That initial connection would eventually lead me to Everquest, which lead me to World of Warcraft and now here I sit gaping at the fact that there are thousands of people waiting two to seven hours to connect to the newest WoW expansion. Despite all that we wouldn’t have any of it if it wasn’t for those original text-based MUDs that people spent years playing and developing.
I know this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the vast history of gaming as we know it but it was something I wanted to take a moment to appreciate. As much as I complain that Overwatch may not be bringing us anything new to the FPS genre, or how I will never touch World of Warcraft again, I can still appreciate the fact they exist. Those games, and many others, come from a long lineage of gaming development and gamers. They all play their role into the games we will play tomorrow.
So take a moment to sit down with a group of friends to load up a good ol’ Golden Eye tournament or an original Quake LAN party. Take a moment to sweep through a lot of those classics that you can find for free on Archive.org. Reminisce and reignite that child-like passion we had in games. In this modern day we’ve drifted just a little bit away from what gaming was to us and we could all use that reminder.
If for no other reason you can get bragging rights for coming in third in a retro gaming night tournament.