Thursday, September 09, 2004

Video Game Revolution

Last night, PBS aired a show called "Video Game Revolution." The program tracked the history of video games and their impact on our society. The show covered everything from pure arcade games to combat games to "god games" such as Sim City and Civilization. This program captivated me. It was not until this afternoon that I realized why I was so intrigued by this documentary. It was because this show was, in a way, a partial history of my life.

Like many of the readers of this blog, I have lived my entire life in the video game era. Some of my earliest memories are of my father holding me up in front of the Pac-Man and Centipede machines in the arcade at the mall. My family spent a lot of time together playing text-based adventures on the Commodore 64. Then came the Mario Brothers. Then Sonic the Hedgehog. Link has been a lifelong friend of mine. And, of course, a myriad of sports games have come and gone from my possession.

I realize that some people do not understand the allure of video games. But this program did a good job explaining why some games mean so much to some people. As this show explained, these games are in many ways like a novel. Granted, they are not the caliber of Dickens or Hugo, but they tell a story, nonetheless. But unlike a novel, the game player can actually interact with this story and influence its outcome. Certainly some people play video games in a mindless fashion. But not everyone does. For many people, video games stimulate the mind and spark the imagination.

I am not suggesting that video games should replace such things as church or friendship, but they do have a valid place in our society and are in some cases worthy of our praise.