I am 22 years old. I have a very good job as a Field Engineer with a very large, well-respected company. I have responsibility now, and I guess it’s time to start growing up. However, there is one vise that I hope I will never abandon, and it started back when I was only a few years old. Sometime in the late 1980’s, my father brought home an Apple II GS, and it came with a huge stack of 5.25inch floppys loaded with some of the best entertainment I had ever experienced. Mission Impossible, Conan, Wings of Fury, Marble Madness, Olympic Winter Games, and BounceIt were just a few of the games that molded me into a 2D gaming aficionado.
In the mid-1990’s, our family purchased a computing powerhouse in the IBM Aptiva, which sported a Pentium II processor and Windows95 operating system. I still remember trying to wrap my head around that 4 Gig hard-drive. More important than the computer was the game that came with it. Mechwarrior II Mercenaries was my first 3D game, and it remains to this day one of the most well-designed and enjoyable games I have ever played. I was immersed in the game…I really was a mercenary, piloting my “beer-can of a mech” to earn cash and salvage. The storyline, the voice-acting, and the gameplay were so good it almost hurts me to think of the potential such a game would have today with the advances we’ve made in graphical effects.
So what is it that makes a good game? What has kept me coming back for more when so many other fads and hobbies have come and gone? More importantly, why do so many other people not understand my passion, and see it only as a waste of time?
A good computer game will trick us into believing the impossible, in the same way that a scary movie leaves us afraid of the dark. Whether we are commanding an army, blasting demons back to hell, or slashing our way through a medieval village, there is always one place that we should never be…and that’s sitting at a desk watching pixels move on a screen. The realization that a group of coders has predetermined the outcome of every choice we could possibly make can be the ultimate disillusionment to our electronic daydream.
And why can I spend hours immersed in a game-world. That’s easy. Imagination. Those of us with strong imaginations, those of us who played outside as kids instead of watching TV 24/7, those of us who lived as Robin Hood, Batman, and Davy Crocket as children have no problem becoming Gordon Freeman (Half-Life), Master-Chief (Halo), or the Supreme Commander (Supreme Commander) in our computer games.