I remember being excited when I would break a high score on a video game. Getting a personal best was always an achievement. However, in the early stages of home video game entertainment systems, the score was lost when the system was shut off. Proving your worth to your peers was difficult.
I loved playing on my ColecoVision and Intellivision. Because games of yesteryear just kept repeating and getting faster making them more difficult. There was never really an end, just repetition.
And I played for hours. Usually giving up to have dinner or go to bed.
Of course, in the 80’s the technology was so advanced at all it took was connecting the RF switch to a VCR and you could record your high score to share with your friends! Now I could have proof of how cool I was and would share with my one or two friends… who showed little to no interest in my accomplishments… but I was excited.
Mortal Kombat 4. My personal arcade machine.
Then there were arcade games. Every kid I knew in the 80’s wanted their own arcade game. We all had personal favorites. But not always having an arcade to go to, we were limited to what the local convenience store/mall had readily available. I played “Burger Time” when living in Edmonton at a pizza place whenever I could.
The early 80’s had bred arcade playing rockstars. All shooting for a high score or a “kill screen”. Two of my favorite documentaries on the subject are:
King of Kong: A Fistfull of Quarters
Man vs Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler
Moving on from the 80’s arcades and as home video game console got better, so did the sharing of high scores. By the early 90’s, magazines were now devoted to the gaming industry and went hand in hand to a young teen like myself. My personal favorite magazine for gaming info was “Gamepro”.
I had a two year subscription to it. Every month I’d flip to the back to see alphabetically, the high scores of many games. My vested interest was in Tetris and Columns. I played those as much as possible. I never hit the scores that were posted, but it gave me a goal. (As sad as that goal might have been back then…)
But there were also arcades with more selections now. From Altered Beast to Street Fighter 2- games took up my free time when away from home. There were a place to go to and hang out with friends. As new games came in, I was still drawn to the classics- Centipede, Pac Man, Frogger. Those were my “go-to” games. Heck, I’d love to get those in my home one day… I was close to buying a Frogger machine at an auction once, but the price jumped too high for me. Pun intended.
Aw look, matching Astrosmash shirts.
Playing videogames that have no ending are my way of unwinding sometimes. I’ll play Pac Man or Astrosmash until I’ve had my fill, then shut it off. Re-playing games with a goal, such as Super Mario World or Zelda, doesn’t appeal to me. If I finished it once, why do it again? The goal was achieved.
The games I enjoy are much like life. Life just goes by faster and faster getting harder and harder with no real end goal in site. All I’m doing is trying to reach a high score before “Game Over” happens.