Games We Play: Atari

August 9, 2008 at 4:18 pm Leave a comment

I’d like to start out this post by saying that I’ve always been a gamer. I really don’t know how to feel about the recent ZOMG! Girl Gamers! craze. Have girls and women always been gamers? Yes. Yes, they have. We’ve been playing in arcades, on consoles and at our computers since we were very small. Female gaming is absolutely nothing new. Have we been playing different games, or playing games differently, from the games and ways our male counterparts play? Well, maybe.

I don’t know that the new emphasis on female gamers is really helping anybody out. Yes, it would be awesome if game designers made more games targeted at girls and women that weren’t totally condescending and stupid. It would also be great if we could play some of the “male” games we so adore without all the female characters being either wussy or ridiculous sex objects (or both). I’d also love to see more women advancing in the realm of game design and competitive gaming, if that’s what they want to do.

Anyway, I’ve decided to take a little trip through my personal history of gaming, roughly in chronological order. (I say roughly because I’ve actually divided by platform, which isn’t necessarily accurate since there was some overlap. Some of these games also had a bit of renaissance in my college and post-college years, so while I may have gotten the games when I was ten, I may have played them last month.)

First stop: Atari.

Yes, we had an Atari 2600. I’m heartbroken that my parents seem to have gotten rid of it at some point–I may have to buy my own console one day when I have, oh, a real job. Wikipedia is fantastic for finding game titles, so here are the ones I can remember playing:

Air-Sea Battle: Multi-color! I don’t remember having as many options as the Wikipedia page lists, but I do remember this being pretty tricky with the joysticks.

Asteroids: A surprisingly challenging game. I remember my dad being pretty good at this one. Again, I was never a fan of joystick games–I tended to lean toward paddle-controlled titles.

Mario Bros.: I loved this game. It’s much more fun as a two player game, of course, so I used to beg my brother to play with me. There was much stomping on each other’s heads.

Missile Command: This was my dad’s favorite. I was never very good (again with the joysticks), although I liked watching him play. The way the graphics and the sound effects combined when you were about to die remain one of the most terrifying video game sequences of all time.

Night Driver: I definitely don’t remember the graphics being as involved as the screenshot on the Wikipedia page, but this was my all-time favorite Atari game. (In my memory there was no car, just a cross in the center of the screen that never actually moved–the road moved around you. Am I actually picturing some other game?)

Space Invaders: Another game enjoyed more by my dad and brother, with the honors for the greatest game music of all time. Seriously, that cannot even be debated.

Video Olympics: I actually can’t state with any certainty that we ever had this game, but I definitely remember playing Pong (included in this title), which doesn’t seem to have been sold separately for the 2600.

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