Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gaming has come a long way in 40 years

Computer gaming has come a long way in the past 40 years. In the early 1970's I would go to my dad's office on occasion and sit in the corner playing a game called Snoopy and the Red Baron on a little computer console while my dad worked at his desk. He was a punch card programmer and I remember feeding punch cards into the large computer in the side room as he explained to me what they were and how they told the computer what to do based on where the holes in the cards were. My next experience with a computer game was the video arcade machines at the local bowling alley, although I preferred the pinball games. This was back when there was a cigarette dispenser beside the candy and soda machines. I can still remember my sister's buddies playing pinball and bumping the machine a bit too hard so that the TILT! alarm went off. We got an Atari in the 70's and Pong became an instant favorite for all of us. As technology changed and things moved to the 80's we progressed along with it to games such as PacMan, but more important than that were the first home computers. My dad wasted no time in finding the resources to buy a Vic 20 when they were introduced and began to teach us how to create our own programs and games. I learned how to make pixel characters using basic programming languages. I would sit for hours with a pile of pens and a pad of graph paper and decide just what the characters in the video games should look like. Now we have 3D programs such as Blender and Daz Studio that allow you to create realistic looking game characters, Blender even has a game engine to allow you to create the characters and the game all in one bundle. I play games like Skyrim and Dragon Age 2 and am struck by the graphics and cut-scenes in the games. Many games are more than a game, they are stories, little movies in which we as players participate in the filming. I have to wonder what game tech will be like in another 20 years. Will current 3D games give way to holographic game rooms as Pong gave way to 3D? I hope I get to see that. It would be nothing short of amazing.