Archive for the ‘games’ Category

Games, part 2: The arcade

Monday, January 21st, 2013

SpaceInvaders-GameplayPart 1 is here.

I’m proud to say that Space Invaders was the first arcade game I ever played, and I was great at it, though I was only ten when it came out. Again, its simplicity was its strength. You’re running back and forth at the bottom of the screen and the aliens are marching down toward you, slowly at first, then faster and faster as you kill more and more of them. You must shoot them before they reach you, and you must not let them shoot you first. It had very effective game sounds with a Jaws-like simple “tune” as the aliens marched relentlessly closer and closer, faster and faster. Not bad at all for 1978. There was one in the game room of the resort we went to one summer, and I would get a stack of quarters from my dad for Space Invaders and bottles of Pepsi Light from the machine, and play for hours. Good times.


Games, part 1: Childhood

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013


I was a child in the 1970s, so the games I played are sort of the classic Gen X American middle class board games. From Candy Land to Monopoly, if my family didn’t have it, someone on the block usually did.

Roll the dice, move your piece, obey the rules or break them. What is a game, and what separates a “game” from just “play”? I would say that a game is inventive play, with rules of varying complexity and rigidity. Often there is an object or a definitive endpoint. You reach “home,” you win all your opponent’s pieces or money, you kill the aliens. Or you don’t, and you lose, or you “die.” Lots of people have written lots of words about games, so let me go ask the internets for an official definition. BRB.

“A game is structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool.”

That’s from Wikipedia. I like the broad definition. I also like how the article distinguishes games from work and art, and then says the lines between them are sometimes blurred.