Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Evolution of Gaming

Hey, congrats to me! The previous 25-thousand-views milestone was more impressive, but the 30 thousand we've now surpassed is still nothing to sneeze at. I'll probably keep celebrating every 10k. Eventually, every 50k, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Now without further ado, I should hold forth on some topic related to old video games, especially an aspect only tangentially related to the blog's erstwhile theme, game ads as published in old comic books. (Hey, I just made two game-ad posts in a row, something not seen since February. So cut me some slack, er, me.)

The Evolution of Gaming show came and went; I reserved my tickets and strategically booked my partner and myself slots near the end of the run, thinking that any technical problems would be worked out by then. Hence we missed out on a French artist's circuit bending of NES Power Pads to control a modern rhythm game, played at opening night. Also, judging by the number of "out of order" stations (despite valiant Hackery volunteers sweating blood to keep vintage machines up and running -- and occasionally springing across the room to replace an Apple II's Oregon Trail disk 1 with disk 2 when needed), perhaps earlier in the show the exhibition would have garnered fewer hardware casualties... there were plenty of exhibits represented solely by a piece of hardware, an explicative plaque (and hey, why wasn't I tapped to write those?), and a dead TV screen. But I did get to see in person several gaming machines (eg. the ZX Spectrum, Odyssey2) I'd only ever read about before -- some of which were even working! -- and bring some perspective to the titles the curators had selected. Lots of stations were abandoned, derelicted in a working condition in favour of more famous generation-winners which always had nostalgic crowds watching. Also, there was some contemporary VR game experience for which there was a line-up to try... a line-up which I opted out of. All in all, it reminded me of nothing so much as one of my own vintage game parties -- with, admittedly more stations, of older machines (a Vectrex or a working Computer Space is always a thing of beauty -- Space Invaders controlled with stuck button controls, less so.) But is anyone really that disappointed when I fail to dish up KC Munchkin on the Odyssey2? Note to readers: the next game party is on track for this coming November, stay posted for dates.

My daughter was most interested in a giant life-sized statue of Pac-Man, who she found fascinating. Her mom asked her: "Does Pac-Man have a bum?" She wandered all around his base before returning to report: "No bum, just legs!"

Apparently the show had a portion of its bill footed by some French cultural attache, under the premise that France's videogame industry (currently: huge) had been historically significant and would be highlighted in this show along with local products, but barring BC: Quest for Tire (an improbable BC production published by Sierra) I didn't see it. (Even most of the "French" games cited in the supporting press release were made in Montreal.) If I'd been that cultural attache, I would have been steamed. In short, if you don't already have a pile of working vintage gaming systems in your basement, this would have been your only chance to see this history, living, bleeping and blooping. But if you do... what was the big deal?