229: Eight-Bit Antiquities

Eight-Bit Antiquities

It's an odd feeling, rediscovering a piece of once cutting-edge technology that is now woefully obsolete. But yesterday's game systems are quickly becoming today's museum pieces. Greg Tito speaks with Eric Wheeler, Associate Curator at the National Center for the History of Electronic Games.

Read Full Article

Old videogames. A subject that is near and dear to my heart.

See I collect them. Sadly I have gone into collectors mode and never actually get to play the games. The Several thousands of games spread across the 17 Systems that I own. The Atari 2600 was the first game system I ever played, yet even then it was old with the NES having been released for several years. I can safely say it got me hooked on gaming. Hooked I remain 23 years later.

There's an interesting point there about how the games on the old consoles are practically un-playable today, but I think it has less to do with graphics and more to do with other aspects of gaming that have changed.

I tried Game-tap for a while as well as downloads from Wii's virtual console and XBLA, and I always found that the experiences could not satiate me the same way that watching old movies or reading old literature can.

I think once the PSOne and the N64 took over as the mainstream consoles the nostalgia that we feel for our old games became twisted with the 3D modeled games that we've gotten used to. And even more important than the added dimension, since we're still seeing new 2D games of all genres coming out to some success, is the paradigm shift of overall design of games, which is, in my opinion, due largely to the complete assimilation of saving.

In a game today you die, you start 5, 10, maybe 30 minutes back from where you were when you died. Enjoying a game today means enjoying the game play and equally enjoying how the experience changes as you progress. Starting from scratch would be almost unheard of to younger gamers, and I think even most older games have gotten so used to it that going back to our "roots" is more frustration than anything else.

The addition of saving also means that the challenges of the games we grew up with are not the challenges of games we play today. If killing our avatar is nothing but a minor obstacle then other methods to hang up the player are necessary to create a sense of challenge. The kind of games we have now have so many other streams of input coming to us while we play that we're forced to use skills beyond our twitches to beat today's games.

Getting through an NES game meant becoming an absolute master at the particular game's mechanics--learning the controls, timing the events, understanding every cue and pressing the correct button at the correct time, every time. Yesterday's games were completely unforgiving, die here--start over. We're no longer equipped to handle games like that because we're not practiced in those kinds of games anymore.

Graphics are certainly a large part of what makes a game appear old but the game play is what makes it feel old... and the fact that they're putting Ataris into museums is what makes me feel old.

I am SO going to dig out my intellivision now, although it wasn't the first gaming system my family ever bought. My Dad was a buyer for the now defunct Woodward's in Canada and as such got to see all the cool toys before they were released in the stores, so one day he came home with a Telstar Arcade, and my life was changed forever.

My parents just bought a Wii so they can play games with my neices, and I think I'm going to show them what games used to look like when their uncle was just a couple of years older than them.

Chances are they'll just get bored.

Hells yeah. It's weird to think that, 100 years from now, people will be looking at games in an attempt to understand the culture of our days. It certainly sounds weird to most people nowadays that someday games might be thought of as something with the historical and artistical value of a book, but I'm sure most people nowadays would find it strange if the favourite passtime healthy young males was reading books, as it has been in the 300 or so years between when literacy became widespread and when an alternative came up in the form of electronic media.

Also, just a few months ago we cleaned an old room in my house and found my mom's old Odyssey. She was so sure it wouldn't work she didn't want to try to hook it up.

Blaxton:

Getting through an NES game meant becoming an absolute master at the particular game's mechanics--learning the controls, timing the events, understanding every cue and pressing the correct button at the correct time, every time. Yesterday's games were completely unforgiving, die here--start over. We're no longer equipped to handle games like that because we're not practiced in those kinds of games anymore.

*cough*

Aww I love old video games. So simple yet so fun. No super amazing graphics or super complex plot. Just simple action

Yeah I had the misfortune of attempting to play my NES on my high definition television last week...

I'll need to go back and buy some standard definition televisions methinks.

We never had vintage videogame systems back in the day, but strangely I find I quite enjoy them now!

I've still got every console i've ever owned and i'm never gettin rid of em! A NES, Mastersystem, Gameboy, Super NES, Playstation 1, Dreamcast (anybody else remember that disaster?), Playstation 2 (and seventeen controllers... no idea where most of them came from), Gameboy Advance, Gamecube, Playstation 3. Everything except for my Megadrive which my best mate obliterated with a crowbar after a particularly frustrating game of Desert Strike. The bastard.

We should all preserve our old consoles as they're an important part of the history of our gaming culture. I'm proud to have been part of the gaming revolution. For better or worse gaming has played an integral part in my life since my parents brought that NES home all those years ago. From the moment I laid hands on that cheap red and gray plastic zapper i was hooked. I've gotten so many hours of joy from my consoles i simply can't bear to throw them away.

And if nothing else what would i do if my PS3 broke down?

But perhaps that's about to change. It was always my dream to have a game room with a dedicated nook for each console and an A/V switch that would allow me to keep them all hooked up and ready to play.

Mine, too. Ever since I got rid of my roommate to have my home's second bedroom all to myself, I knew this is exactly what I wanted to do with it. Unfortunately, my financial priorities have shifted a bit. Still, between an SNES, an N64, the Gamecube's Game Boy Player, and my PS2, I'd still have much to toss in the room. Whenever I do finally get an HDTV, my current living room SDTV will go into the future game room to at least have some kind of start.

(I went through two NESs growing up. The first obviously died, though we did get the second one before it finally went kaput. The second wound up pawned one day, as my mom rightfully felt making sure we had a roof and food was more important than a console we hardly played. I've wanted to pick up an original gray NES again, but the recent remakes make a strong case with their greater stability.)

I still have my Dad's Atari 2600, his Atari 7800, and his two Commodore 64s. As well as my first DOS computer with all the games still on it.

Pitfall, Moon Patrol, Bruce Lee, Ghostbusters, Budo: The Art of Ninja Combat, and Gorillas.bat.

Some of the finest games I have ever played. I still have a monitor and TV that is compatible with each, just in case. To be honest, these machines do belong in a museum, but I could never part with my childhood that way. Preserved forever or not, I will hang on to these systems until they die. I have way too many memories with each to put them up in a museum for any amount of money.

(I just pictured the events of Toy Story 2 with Woody being replaced by an Atari)

Bravo, museums! The Atari is an artifact of the seventies and deserves to be preserved just the same as any other object of that time. It's good to see that something's being done to save our history instead now instead of waiting for it to almost disappear before trying.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here