In Defence of Video Games

by Michael Shaw — ( Sept 7, 2014

arcade_1980s_2I was introduced to video games, a la “Pong,” around 1978ish. I was a natural. Whereas the boys I grew up with were into baseball and football, etc., I was never athletically inclined. Oh, I tried to fit in, but I was never successful at it.
Fast forward to 1984 and the movie “The Last Starfighter,” the first movie to integrate CGI effects into the movie. I was fascinated beyond all belief. I wanted to know everything I could about computers, and video games, and how they worked.
In order to gain this understanding, I spent my newspaper route money in the arcades, or saving up for the state-of-the-art computers and game systems of the time (I had 4 paper routes in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY). I tore the systems apart and successfully put them back together. I learned how to double the RAM (Random Access Memory) of my TRS-80 Color Computer II, learned how to solder, taught myself some BASIC, COBOL and Machine Language computer languages (long since forgotten)…
…and somewhere along the line, I became (in theory, at least) a world class video game player. Had I known at the time that there were world records for playing video games, I would undoubtedly hold a few, flipping the score of the classic game “Missile Command” nine times on one quarter and playing “Asteroids” for more than 50 hours straight on one quarter.
When my father’s mental health started coming apart around 1985 and he started using cocaine, the video arcade was a haven for me (when I wasn’t hanging out in the public library or sneaking into the Brooklyn Aquarium).

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