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April 4, 2003

Obligatory Video Game Post

I often find myself trying to hide my enjoyment of video-games, sensing a certain stigma towards anyone over the age of 13 who still plays them regularly. I also often find myself hiding the fact I am over the age of 13, but that is kind of a separate issue...

Anyhoo, If the folks doing the "stigma-ing" would take a second to hear me out, I could relate a few points which I think prove there is a higher concept at work here:

-Tecchie Appreciation

Quake III ArenaThis means I am a geek. There is a whole genre of game out there I will play just to see the next piece of technological wizardry. The last good example was Quake III with its "curved surfaces." It is very hard to draw actual "curves" on your computer screen, since everything is all 1's and 0's and tends more to be square. But with some interesting math (probably involving Calculus, or one of those disciplines where numbers are not really numbers an' stuff) you can approximate curves, even in a 3-dimensional game environment.

Personally, I don't care for any other aspect of Quake III Arena, but it is fun to look at and that's enough to get me playing it once in a while.

-Design Genius

Yoshi's Island GBAA great game is planned and designed down to the last pixel. If "Sporty, The Flying Cheeto(tm)" can jump exactly 2 inches off the ground and run at exactly 2 meters per second, then ideally his environment will reflect and capitalize perfectly on these traits. His opponents will be perfectly "jump-overable" (not too tall to jump over, but tall enough to raise the question), and various other key aspects of the game will revolve tightly around Sporty's abilities and limitations.

Unquestionably the master of such game design is Shigeru Miyamoto, aka "the main reason Nintendo still makes a game system." Yoshi's Island and Super Mario 64 are the tightest designed games in existence, and will likely never be surpassed. The trend nowadays is to throw a bunch of dough at a developer and yell "gimme the Olsen Twins on surfboards, we're gonna cash in." Such competition is just too fast and furry to allow serious designers the years of development it takes to create greatness.


Star Wars original arcade gameWith the help of MAME*, I am currently working my way through 546 arcade "shooters" (my favorite game genre) circa 1979 through 2002. My favorites are always the ones I stumble across and say "Oh yeah! I remember playing this in an arcade one time down in like Florida or something, I forgot all about it!"

I just have to throw this video-game nostalgia moment in here; Zwackery, now that was a weird game.

*P.S. To The Various Authorities; Yes, of course I legally own each of the 546 games I am playing with that software, so you probably don't even have to check it out...