LXXVII – The Games We Play

At one point or another in our lives, most of us have played some sort of video game. Whether it be an arcade game, console game or mobile game, most of us have played, even if it’s Solitaire on the old Windows computers. Young and old alike, people love their video games.

Video game consoles today are nothing like the ones when I was growing up. Today’s Xboxes and PlayStations are so far advanced from a freaking Atari 2600 or the original NES. I’ve seen my kids playing “Grand Theft Auto” and “Red Dead Redemption” on their PS4, and I think to myself, “Good lord, there are so many buttons and combinations that I could never play this crap.” Not to mention that today’s game graphics sometimes rival actual television, even using voice actors for the dialogue, such as in the game “Transformers: Devastation”, they used many original 1980s-Transformers voice actors for the game.

I grew up on the old stuff: Mario Bros., Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, etc. Growing up in California, my mom would sometimes go to a laundromat close to the house, and there was a Ms. Pac-Man arcade game, and I spent my fair share of quarters playing it. Eventually, we got the NES at home, and I’d play the Mario games, original Legend of Zelda (the gold cartridge that acutally saved your progress) and the like. Eventually, I even got the Super NES and Nintendo 64 at one point or another. I used to love Donkey Kong 64, with its silly Kong monkeys. I remember vividly getting seriously pissed at one boss level that involved the girl monkey. If you held the jump button down, she’d spin like a helicopter and shout “Wheeeeeee!” in a squeaky voice. Once or twice wasn’t bad, but in this boss level, you had to jump from one pillar to another, and it required a long jump each time. So, you heard that obnoxious squeak constantly. I lost many a game due to being fed up by the voice. I was like, oh shut up, bitch! I eventually beat the level, but I had to mute the sound to concentrate on the gameplay.

https://youtu.be/djYeFLh8QLA Okay, here’s a link to someone’s YouTube video demonstrating playing this level. Note how obnoxious this level was and why I was so goddamned frustrated🤬.

Today, with technology the way it is, there is game emulator software out there you can download and play the old-school video games. I have on my laptop one called MAME (Multi Arcade Machine Emulator), with the files from several games, such as Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man, BurgerTime, Amidar and the like. Some of these titles haven’t been seen since the 1980s, and it’s nice to reminisce and enjoy the nostalgia. You can find emulators for all the old consoles, I believe. Sure, it’s a bitch process to find the emulator, then locate the actual game files (since they legally can’t be offered together).

PC gaming has changed dramatically, from the old Windows 3.1 Solitaire to the modern stuff. Let’s not even mention how mobile games are. You find a game you like for your phone, through the App Store or Google Play. Simple enough. It just sucks when you find a game that says it’s free, but has umpteen bazillion add-ons you have to purchase, or ads everywhere you look.

One game that was fun on my PC is one called Chuzzle. It’s a Bejeweled-type game, where you have these little colored puffballs on the screen, and you have to match 3 or more of the same color to pop them. It’s a nice little game, but there are limited modes. I found one in the Play Store that succeeds that one, and it’s called, interestingly enough, “Chuzzle 2”. It plays similarly, but there are more challenges and more rewards. I’ve been playing this one quite a lot recently, as it’s a nice little time killer. Chuzzle 2 also has this thing where you collect little Chuzzle puffballs in a little house, and you have to feed them and make sure they’re entertained. I guess it’s like the old Tamagotchi games, if you think about it.

One of the big ones that came out, but has since lost some of its fad status (although there are the faithful players) was Pokémon Go. I never got into that one, because 1) I never got into Pokémon to begin with, and 2) I’m not the kind of person to just go outdoors to search for non-existent Pocket Monster creatures. I don’t roam the outdoors unless I have to. My introvert social battery drains quickly with social human interaction. I use the self-checkout exclusively when possible, so I don’t have to bother with small talk🤮. Obviously, if I absolutely had to, I could. I just prefer to avoid it.

Even though I never owned an Atari 2600, I did play it. My dad once knew some people that had one way back in the late 70s, and I’d play when visiting them. I remember the weirdly ill-looking Pac-Man, the anemic looking ghosts, which flashed erratically, the strange dashes instead of dots, and the bizarre sounds of the dashes being consumed (as opposed to the arcade version’s “waka waka”). The graphics were truly awful on the Atari 2600, similarly to the ever-blocky Intellivision games. In fact, there was a game for the Atari 2600 that has to be the worst of all-time. Back in the craze of the E.T. movie, Atari made a game based on the character. However, the atrocious graphics resembled nothing of the sort. That game flopped so badly that Atari was left with millions of unsold and/or returned cartridges. In 1983, Atari sent several semi trucks to a dump in New Mexico to dispose of many of the E.T. games, along with hundreds of thousands of other cartridges and non-working parts.

I don’t hate on video games by any stretch of the imagination. I just like my simple-to-play games that you can win within a few hours, unlike some of today’s games like the Assassin’s Creed or Red Dead Redemption series, that you can literally play for weeks and not finish. Every decision leads to some kind of new path. For example, Red Dead Redemption 2 has four possible endings, depending on your choices during the game.

It’s definitely a digital world, where we watch many things on a screen or through virtual reality glasses. Which leads me to wonder one last thing: what if the world we live in is merely some kind of computer simulation, not unlike the Sims, or even The Matrix? What if we’re just CGI, and imagining what we see, however we perceive everything as being real? Perhaps the real world really did end in 2012 with the end of the Mayan calendar cycle, and our reality simply continued as a computer program. It may or may not be plausible, but it is interesting to consider and ponder.

On that note, the time has come to bring this post to its conclusion. Please enjoy your perceived reality, and please come back next week for more interesting and insightful stuff. Until then, be safe and be well.

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