Friday, January 15, 2010

The Atari 2600, Video Games, and Real Life

I hope this doesn't come across as the ramblings of an old person but here it goes.

Over at Lou Anders' blog, he links to a YouTube video of the Superman game for the Atari 2600. It's three minutes of game playing footage. A quick trip to Wikipedia reveals that the object of the game is to repair the bridge Lex Luthor destroyed, avoid kryptonite, change back into Clark Kent, and kiss Lois Lane in the shortest time possible. Yeah, that really is all to the original game.

Anders notes that, at the time (1979), it was revolutionary. And it was. I never had this version (I got the 5200 later) but I distinctly remember the cover art for all these games being gorgeous and very cool. Then, when you popped the cartridge in, the graphics didn't match the cover art. I never thought much of it because, hey!, I was playing a video game. How friggin' cool was that?

Looking back on it now, however, it's laughable. How the heck is that stick man supposed to be Supes? Dunno. So many of those old 2600 games (and Colecovision, Nintendo, Intellivision) tried to emulate real life (or arcade versions of games) to lesser effect. Again, it really didn't matter because we kids knew the games weren't real.

Nowadays, with advanced video and computer capability, we have games that are all but real life. The graphics are so phenomenal that they come across as breathtaking. The sports games are sometimes better than TV. The first person shooters can generate a real sense of dread and exhilaration, especially when the aliens are approaching. It's very cool.

But do people now realize where modern video games stop and real life starts? Is the effort to "entertain" taking over perceptions of real life?

1 comment:

Doug Warren said...

ou can tell it is Supes by the little, flapping cape. Duh! ;-)