I have never been too much of a fan of computer gaming and my attempts at mastering Prince of Persia or Wolfenstein 3D long back, never went beyond 2 or 3 levels. I never found it easy to get beyond those monsters guarding gates or get around traps or move through the mazes or fight. I just get killed. Never was much into gaming after that, save for a few sessions of Solitaire or Pinball. I let go the entry of the vastly improved RPGs (Role Playing Games) or MMPORGs (Massively Multi-player Online RPGs) which seemed to take gaming to a different realistic 3D level from the older gen 2D imagery. Gaming hardware!!! Nah!, at least till a couple or so years back.
The progeny (La Niña and El Niño) have made sure that there needed to be a gaming hardware at home, courtesy their cousins. Being the electronics junkie (not the rabid one though), I got the gaming hand-held, Nintendo Game Boy Advance (GBA) into the home. Never has a single piece of gaming hardware been used amicably between siblings, AFAIK. Endless quarrels over rights of use and overwritten scores followed. (Apple may even accept Flash on the iPad, but the 'rights of use' over game systems at home never will be resolved) Well, technology improved and this brought the Nintendo DS-Lite (with dual screens and touch capability), the more sophisticated brother of the GBA. Peer pressure mounted and after constant nagging and promises of good behavior (Blah!, there is nothing like that, was the late realization) I got it, not one, but two DS-Lite gaming consoles, to end the never-ending quarrels over rights to the lone GBA. And the DS-Lite supported a private form of Wi-Fi where the same game can be played with up to 4 different DS consoles. That orphaned the GBA to an almost never used status as the new DS could play the old cartridges and had a new sleek cartridge type for DS specific games. And I had to be crafty enough to get diverse cartridges that wouldn't be the bone of contention (which still was for a few games).
Thet brings us to the quicksand rip-offs in the gaming eco-system. The hardware is relatively cheap, buying the software, in the form of game cartridges is a big deal. If you buy 4 or 5 of them, they could very well exceed the price of the hardware itself. Buying cheap cartridges in the Burma Bazaar type shops is a no-no. The kids figured out that you can't save games in the cheapsters, which is important for them and without which you have to start all over from level 1 each time you start the console (geez, there are some 99 levels in some games). So much so for cheap rip offs. And by the time you get a good hang of the system, a new variant of the console is out. And thence starts the never ending cycle.
In comes the Internet and there are free emulators for the GBA and the DS-Lite out there and there are also the ROM images of the games which can be loaded and run on the PC. And add to that there is a 'game cheat' ecosystem where after entering data into the emulators, you get unlimited lives, open secret doors, jump to the final level, grab goodies etc etc. In addition to all the game cartridges possessed, the ROM images were another source of play with the home computer(s).
|Picture courtesy: Wikipedia|
I am impressed with the hardware, its interactivity and the fun quotient. Last weekend had the whole home started on the Nintendo Wii. There are simple games like bowling, golf, baseball and tennis and as usual, the complex, multiplayer RPGs also. Of course, the kids beat us, the parents, in almost every game (the ones lost were branded as 'cheating by Wii' :-D) and then started the quarrels about which game to play between the siblings. :-( Déjà vu time!!! And I haven't yet figured out the Mario Kart races (I fall regularly into gorges, volcanoes, go the wrong way, cannot turn properly, do not use power-ups etc) while the kids around take it like a fish to water. And they seem to have special eyes for reading the game manuals for tips, but bark and balk when asked to do the same with their homework. The kid-gang, when they meet, converses only on Pokémon and its ilk or strategies (!). Probably, the most fun job would have to be a tester at a game software company.
Señora has restricted the access to the new addiction to all (the DS-Lites have already been banished for 2-3 months), to be used only on weekends, lest that all three (me, La Niña and El Niño) become zombies when we are at play. Till then, I see the beauty at eye-shot distance and salivate. I am smooth-talking the kids to allow me to use the DS-Lites later (to gain some experience in gaming), but they have rejected it saying that the scores cannot be tampered with and are asking me to play Pet Shop. :-(. [Reminds me of a hilarious Seinfeld episode where George Costanza gets a Frogger arcade machine which still has his top score, preserved for posterity]
Wii Nintendo, Wah!!!
(for now, Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony Playstation 3 are in comparative conversations only. The home won't stand another one, even if someone gives it for free)