Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rant #854: Pong Ping

No, I did not win the Powerball jackpot. I think the winning tickets were purchased out west.

Oh, woe is me.

So let me move on from that to a day in history that will be immortalized by some, and for others, it's a day of infamy.

And for still others, well, it doesn't mean anything to them.

In 1972, 40 years ago, the so-called first video game, Pong, was introduced to the world.

No, it wasn't the world's first video game--even though it is identified by many as the first--but it was the first to be widely accepted by the public.

Created by Atari, the video game debuted at Andy Capp's Tavern in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Pong was the simplest of video games--basically, akin to tennis, it was just hitting an object back and forth--but it set the stage for later video games, the explosion of these games in the 1990s, and today's video game market, where not only are the games more life-like, but you can play these games online with people half way around the world from where you are.

I did play Pong. It was a real novelty at the time.

I remember playing it in a bowling alley, probably in Queens, maybe around this time or maybe in 1973.

It was kind of neat, but I never really got into video games at all.

Later, in the 1980s, I remember playing Qbert and Space Invaders and PacMan and lots of other video games, but I was a pinball machine guy, really.

Not a wizard, but I always found those games more challenging.

And they were more "real" to me. There was actually a ball darting down this maze.

With a video game, it was nothing but electronic figures going all over the place.

Not real to me, I guess.

My daughter and son got into video games, got out of them, and got back in them.

My son likes the sports-oriented ones, like the ones with the NBA and WWE stamp on them.

I know my daughter plays them, too, but I don't know what she goes for, certainly not the sports one.

My son as the Wii, and he is firmly content with what he has.

But he is too young to realize that the leap from the simpleness of Pong to the complexity of NBA 2012 took about 30 years to happen.

And it all stemmed from the popularity of Pong.

Once Pong took off, a new way to spend our time was created.

Board games survived, pinball machines survived, but well, it was never the same anymore.

And we can both blame and applaud Pong for helping to change the shape of the gaming world forever.

It's been 40 years, and things have changed a lot during that period of time.

Could I play Pong now? Sure I could, but honestly, I have better things to do with whatever free time I have now than to sit down and play a game where I am simply hitting a figure back and forth.

Here's to Pong, though. It's sort of the father of the video game, the link where all video games started, so for that reason, I have to give it its kudos.

Now onto more important matters ...

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