The History Of Video Games And Why It Matters

The History Of Video Games And Why It Matters

The video game industry needs historians.
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If you Google "timeline of video game history," you will more than likely be met with a link to the Museum of Play, the "largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play." The International Center for the History of Electronic Games and the World Video Game Hall of Fame both call this museum their home, providing a haven for research and the recognition of electronic gaming and its impact on modern culture.

Why is it so important that we have institutions like these? Why should we support the dedication of scholars and journalists to the historical preservation of gaming?

The most basic answer: it’s an endlessly cool subject. I may be biased as a History major, but the events and objects of the past that show how we’ve gotten to where we are today are endlessly fascinating. The building blocks of the video game industry, as with any industry or medium, are full of stories of engineering genius and human creativity (the sorely missed warmth and passion of Satoru Iwata provide many examples). Historical preservation allows people who are truly excited by gaming to explore their interests, learn about the medium they love and possibly take part in the industry’s future.

Similar to film, music and literature, video gaming has developed and changed greatly over time. While the gaming industry may be the youngest of these forms of entertainment, it has very rapidly become a dominating force in pop culture. The amount of fervor and opinion surrounding various games and consoles runs the gamut from childish Internet arguments all the way to high-brow scholarly debates. Industry analysts research the monetary impact of different happenings in the medium while journalists and critics ponder the cultural impacts and quality of these products. The games themselves have grown into such a complex variety of narratives and objectives, play-styles and lengths, that there is a game for everyone.

What was once an industry dedicated to simple games and digital toys has blossomed into a medium of lifelong passion and artistic expression. Art and technology intermingle as artists and computer engineers work alongside writers, actors and composers to create sprawling worlds and unique narratives. Independent developers work tirelessly to create quirky and creative passion projects, while online fan communities come together to preserve the stories and codes of the past. Video games have gone through the growing pains of legal troubles and censorship (which still persist today) as well as looming economic stagnation. Multiple generations worth of childhoods have been affected by gaming, resulting in a shared, warm nostalgia for these digital landscapes.

None of these things happened overnight. Every game, console and company has been built upon hard work, imagination and the eternal human desire to create. As in the worlds of books and movies, there are a great many who find themselves emotionally invested in video games. In such a burgeoning industry full of creativity and experimentation (where technology and art collide with unprecedented audience interaction), the need to preserve for the present and the future is of the utmost importance.

Cover Image Credit: Wordpress.com

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Does Technology Make Us More Alone?

Technology -- we all love it and we all use it, but how is it affecting us?
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In this day and age, it is near impossible to do anything without the use of technology. You can pay your bills, manage your bank accounts and even chat with a customer service representative all with the use of your smartphone.

Is the use of technology starting to take away from our person-to-person interaction? Think about how often you grab your smartphone or tablet and text your friends instead of picking up the phone to call them or, better yet, making plans to hang out in person.

Technology is supposed to make us feel more connected by allowing us to stay in touch with our friends by using social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter and of course, texting. But are our smartphones getting in the way of socializing? Does technology make us feel more alone?

There is a term that is commonly used, "FOMO" –– short for "fear of missing out." Yes, this is a real thing. If for some crazy reason you don't check your Twitter or Facebook news feed every 10 minutes are you really missing out?

The fact that we have become so dependent on knowing exactly what is going on in other people's lives is sad. We should be focusing on our own lives and our own interactions and relationships with people.

Technology is making us more alone because instead of interacting with our friends in person, we are dependent on using our phones or tablets. We start to compare ourselves and our lives to others because of how many likes we get on our Instagram photos.

We are forgetting how to use our basic communication skills because we aren't interacting with each other, anymore. We are too busy with our noses in our phones. Young kids are dependent on a tablet to keep them entertained rather than playing with toys. That is not how I want my children to grow up.

As a society, we will start to become very lonely people if we don't start making changes. We are ruining personal relationships because of the addiction to our smartphones and checking our social media sites every five minutes.

It's time for us to own our mistakes and start to change. Next time you reach for your phone, stop yourself. When you are with your friends, ignore your phone and enjoy the company of your loved ones around you.

Technology is a great thing, but it is also going to be the thing that tears us apart as a society if we don't make changes on how dependent we are on it.

Cover Image Credit: NewsOK

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4 Substitutes For Social Media

From an existential crisis at the eye doctor.

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Perhaps the most perplexing question I have ever received has been from my eye doctor. I go for a checkup every summer, and I get asked this same question every time, but for some reason, it always ignites an existential crisis in my soul. "How many hours do you spend on your phone?" Yikes. The first couple times, I tended to underestimate my addiction to my screen, "Maybe two hours," I would reply. This answer was always met with a scornful stare that dug deep into the brain. After a few years of back and forth, we settled on six hours, but part of me believes, in fact, knows, that I am once again underestimating myself. So how many hours do I truly spend on my phone? I am not one hundred percent sure. I know that there is a feature in the settings of my iPhone that can tell me, but there is no way I am ever checking that.

Why am I so scared of finding out the real number? Well, because it will simply confirm what I already know about myself: I spend way too much time on my phone, and I know I am not the only one. Besides the fact that my generation's eyesight will probably be shot by forty, we are locked into a virtual life and missing the one that is flying right before our eyes. We are all constantly trying to live the best lives, but is it for our own benefit or for the benefit of our social image? Graciously, I say that fifty percent of my efforts are heard towards the latter. So in this season of my life or extreme self-evaluation and in an effort to rewire my brain before I'm set in my ways when my brain stops developing, I am offering up substitutes to social media for my own benefit and for the benefit of my generational counterparts.

1. Instagram? Go on a walk instead

https://goodstock.photos/people-walking-by-street/

We love posting pictures of pretty things, but do we actually enjoy the pretty things? I mean, I rarely look at my 107 pictures of the Eiffel Tower. So maybe if we could substitute taking and posting pictures for Instagram, we would see so much more than our limited screen has to offer. There is life in nature and in cities. Breathing life. Not digital life.

2. Twitter? Why not hang out with your friends?

https://pixabay.com/en/fashion-young-people-teens-1219507/

I love a good laugh just as much the next guy, so Twitter is my go to for giggles. But how often do I actually laugh out loud to tweets in my bed? Okay, sometimes, I will admit it. But I have found that sharing tweets with my friends gives me the most joy, so why not, I don't know, share thoughts with my friends? Conversation. If you think your friends are funny online, boy oh boy you'll be surprised to see just how funny they can be in real life.

3. Facebook? Dear God, anything else. How about a book?

https://stocksnap.io/photo/H0VXBZUZP3

Ah, Facebook. I love reading posts that share every part of someone's daily life. You did laundry today? Awesome, Mom! A book, though, a book shares all the essential parts of a story. It's exciting. Riveting. I think we can all agree that we lose brain cells spending time of Facebook, but has anyone ever got dumber from reading? I think not.

4. Snapchat? Stare at your friends. It's awesome, trust me.

https://pixabay.com/en/boy-children-guys-human-watch-1105891/

Okay, this one is a joke. But seriously. There are a million things you can do other than sending pictures of your face back and forth with your friends (or you feet if you're having a fight). Bake a cake. Do some work. Discover your passion. Build real relationships. Half of the people I Snapchat, I don't even to.

TNow I'm not damning social media to Hell. It can be a fun thing, and it is engrained in our generation; it is not going away any time soon. My suggestions seem simplistic and silly, but are we actually prioritizing these things over social media? Probably not. But maybe we can learn to take a step back. Maybe we can learn to live our lives rather than living through our favorite vlogger. Maybe we can be able to face our eye doctors with honesty. Maybe we can gain back some of that wondrous gaze in our eyes that we had before they became blinded by the light of our smartphones.

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