Friday, May 27, 2011

What Makes Video Games So Popular?

Let's face it - we've all played video games. Whether you want to admit it or not, you have, at one point, dropped a quarter into a video game or dicked around on your nephew's Wii. Some are addicted to video games and spend most of their time indoors playing them. Others are able to find the right balance of work and play.

I grew up a gamer. I remember as a kid my parents took me and my little brothers to Chuck E. Cheese every single Friday for pizza and video games. It was there that I honed my skills on games like Ms. Pac-Man, Popeye (I was so good at Popeye I would walk away after an hour of play because I never died and got bored. Never thought about world records back then.) Dragon's Lair, Galaga and more. I remember they would have "Token Tuesdays" where you grabbed a cup, got in line and someone would hand you two tokens. Get right back in line and repeat. By the end of the night, I had enough tokens to last the next month.

I loved playing video games in bowling alleys, at Tomorrowland in Disneyland when their arcade filled up both floors, Aladdin's Castle arcades, etc.

As a kid I had the Atari 2600 and to this day I still have my Vectrex system that I got at Toys 'R' Us when they first came out. Today I have all the game systems (Got rid of the Wii, never played it) and a nice gaming PC, but I don't play them as much as I used to. When I'm at home I'll revisit the games of old by playing MAME on my computer, still trying to best my Donkey Kong high score of 201,000.

The arcades from the 80's are dead. It's hard to find an arcade where you can go to play the games you grew up playing. The ones that are around, at least in Los Angeles, are so poorly run and filthy maybe half of the games work. It's actually quite sad. Ground Kontrol in Portland and the arcade at the Santa Cruz Beach & Boardwalk are two of my favorites still standing.

 So what makes video games so popular? I don't know. All I know is I had a great time playing them growing up. And that's a good enough answer for me.

Insert coin? Gladly.

- El Guapo