Video killed Playing Board Games?
(with advance apologies to Songwriters: Geoffrey Downes / Trevor Charles Horn / Bruce Woolley and The Buggles for repurposing their song)
Video games have certainly become a part of our cultural egregore since the release of “Periscope” by Sega in 1966. and Duck Hunt in 1969. I dare say that most kids today have never heard of it, nor of “Pong”, outside of “Beer Pong”, which is an entirely different thing. They have also evolved considerably from their inspiration, the penny arcades of the early 20h Century.
My wife and I used to spend many hours each week in the game arcades of the early 1980s, before home gaming systems became more affordable, and instead of spending a few dozen dollars playing game each week, we could shell out the several hundred dollars for a system that would allow us to play at home.
While I enjoyed Taito’s Space Invaders, her favorite was more along the lines of Crazy Climber, and we both enjoyed Nintendo’s “Donkey Kong”, along with many others. Her mother loved Space Invaders, and would often spend a couple of hours with her Atari after getting home from work playing it to relax (and likely take out job-related stressors in a virtual setting, although none of us talked about tht aspect of it.)
Around 1982, Katrina and I were one of the (apparently few) purchases of the Colecovision game system, which had an add-on module that could turn it into the “Adam” and early personal computer.
This purchase brought us the joys of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong, Sega’s Zaxxon, along with Lady Bug, Cosmic Avenger, and Venture. Of these, Lady Bug was our favorite, and, like my late Mother-In_Law, I would spend some time after work working off stress from my job (I was a Welfare Cse Worker at the time, and our County was experiencing economic downturns as the oil industry was tanking at the time. Getting death threats from applicants for assistance who were being denied for being over the resource limitations because they had paid cash for their three vehicles that each cost more than my annual salary at the time wasn’t pleasant, but those were the rules that we had to follow. It was hard enough for most of them to even make the application, only to be turned down because their car was worth more than the amount the amount considered exemptible.)
A couple of years after we got the Colecovision, we got a Commodore 64, which retailed for $595 – almost a full month’s salary for me at the time. I had been looking at them for while, as the year before we met, I was working as a personal secretary for my cousin’s husband in the Los Angeles area, and he had built a predecessor, the VIC-20; I had been astounded by what he could do with it.) We a)lso had friends in the Los Angeles area, who were running a Computer Bulletin Board System on a Commodore 64 (several of our friends were well-placed in the tech industry of the time, several worked for JPL)
I loved the C=64, and we spent many hours typing in our program code from the pages of whatever gaming magazine we had picked up. this was a tedious process, as you had to input all of your code, then save it in order to run it, and no means of easily checking it for errors before doing so. But we managed.
I can’t remember the number of game programs that we coded. Too many sleeps since then. At some point, we acquired a Nintendo. I don’t recall if the first was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), or the Super NES, but once again, we could ride with Donkey Kong, Mario and the rest. We’ve continued up the Nintendo channel to the current Switch.
As they grew up, the kids purchased other consoles as well – Playstations, XBoxes, any number of handhelds from Tamagotchi tp pretty much everything else. That photograph from the museum in Berlin at the top of this page could just as easily be one of their bedrooms.
As I’m writing this, two of the three are watching a game stream from Rooster Teeth’s Achievement Hunter, which is a frequent occurrence in our household. While the kids aren’t exactly kids anymore, as they are both in their 30s, (as is their other sibling who lives in Arizona with her children.) Of course, in my mind they will all always be my babies, regardless of their actual ages.
As a family, we enjoy Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto V, and several others. We’re a Gamer Household, I suppose; always have been, likely always will be.
And as should be obvious from the rest of this blog, we are also TableTop Role Play Gamers.
Oh hell, we just enjoy games, okay? Board, Tabletop, card, video; we like them all. In fact, last night Middle Spawn helped me create a new Player Character for a 5h Edition Dungeons and Dragons campaign. I asked for assistance, as the last time I played in an actual D&D game was sometime around 1989’s AD&D 2nd Edition release. We’ve spent most of the last 20+ years playing in GURPS or Dragonquest, or any number of other systems.