Reflections of a 50-ish gamer
I thought my video gaming days were over. Most of the arcades were gone, and those that still existed were often broken and sad. I kept promising myself I would find a way to have fun with my computer, but work always won out.
Then came the iPad, and Angry Birds. And then came Steam and virtual reality. Suddenly at 50ish I was playing games again, integrating them into my work and attending conferences where I quickly discovered I wasn’t the only person with grey hair standing in line for the Fallout 4 VR demo.
And then I started thinking about the journey back to gaming. Why gaming, and why now? Here is the journey, and here are the answers as they are for now.
Galaga and early computing
Lunches in the early-1980s often revolved around the Shakey’s Pizza Parlor on Sepulveda Boulevard in Torrance, Calif., and Midway’s Galaga. A couple of slices, a piece of chicken or two and then some gaming.
Galaga was my game. People often found “DWR” at the top of the leader board, and it remained there between visits. When I wandered into other places that housed game consoles, I always had to drop a quarter or two in Galaga as an attempt to leave the DWR legacy on the leaderboard for at least a little while. I even managed it a time or two at Disneyland’s once vaunted Starcade. It was as though I could project my brain into the electronics, yet there was something visceral as my fingers become one with the controllers.
Over the years I tried to bring gaming to my PC experience, first with a rough version of Asteroids that ran on my Radio Shack Model III, then a few games, whose names now escape me, on my 128K Macintosh. But I never found that same oneness with early computers. Part of it was their one-bit graphics, the lack of controllers designed for the experience. And I had to face it. I was trying to develop a career. Computers were for work, so I mastered MultiMate, Borland Paradox and Lotus 1-2-3 with the same aplomb I previously applied to Galaga.
Gaming become a nostalgic turn triggered by a Galaga console, or when my wife and I would sit at a PacMan tabletop waiting for a booth at a local coffeeshop.
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