I remember the day when our uncle introduced us to Atari. We only used to see arcade games played by white boys on TV, and it was such a thrill that we had our very own Atari thingy - hours of indoor fun! We felt so privileged since none of the other kids we knew had one yet.
Photos from AtariAge.
Back then, "joystick" wasn't the least bit a dirty word. So if I say "Our uncle showed us how to work the joystick", it doesn't mean nor imply anything nasty.
Shift the joystick up, down, left and right to move your "player" - it was that simple. No complex combos, no special attacks. The most special attack was to press the red button to fire or whatever. Everything was in large-pixel, eight-color 2-d.
I was really tiny then, so was Pong was one of the few games I could play with some degree of satisfaction. It's a two-player game of table tennis in simple pixels. All I had to do was move my "player" up and down to deflect the square "ball".
Pong was one of the first - if not the very first - video games. I guess anyone can tell from its pixelated primitiveness.
The most popular game then was Pac Man - it used to be so high tech. I tried playing it, but I always failed at the first level. I developed a sort of hatred toward Pac Man - I think that contributed to my general disinterest toward all things video game to this day.
I had a bit more success with Space Invaders. It was my favorite one - it was as simple as moving left and right, and pressing the red button rapidly to fire at the incoming aliens.
Yar's Revenge was already a bit complex. I never even got what the objective was. The cartridge had an artwork of a luminous-looking giant fly, but the graphic in the game itself looked nothing like.
Atari was our go-to recreation source for some time (that and the Betamax), and looking back, I can't imagine something so simple being so addictive.
Atari's popularity waned a few years later, after some Japanese geeks developed the Family Computer and introduced colorful, more complicated games that were basically Pac Man with a twist.
In another few years, Nintendo came out with even more complex recreation. And in yet another few years came the Console Wars, in which Sony and Nintendo kept grinding out bigger, better, faster stuff in rapid succession, one after another, for the growing ADHD of our generation. And before we knew it, games came in 3-d, rapid action, multilayered sound.
The video game has gone through a helluva makeover in three decades. Today's MMORPGs are a far leap from Pong.
I am amused though that Pac Man seems to have made a comeback on people's laptops. It's not an upgrade or a remake - it's still classic, up- down-right-left Pac Man. It's like we've come full circle.