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Computer Games

I remember how the use of computers was always stressed and supported when I was in fourth grade. Teachers and parents said that computers were the way of the future and that everybody should learn to use them, especially children. If children start young, it only leaves room for improvement down the road. A lot of parents began to integrate computers into their family lifestyle, glorifying them and their capabilities and encouraging us to write papers and do projects on them. But there was something extremely more appealing than word processing, and that was games: endless selections of computer games which put Nintendo on the same excitement level as Fischer Price. Games were by far the most attractive capability of any computer, and I have seen a lot of computers.

My best friend since first grade, Dan, had parents that jumped on the computer bandwagon quicker than most. They were a Latin family and they lived only five minutes from my house. He was an only child, so he got bored a lot and his parents felt a computer would be a good way of keeping him intellectually busy. Whatever. I can't even remember how many games he copied from his uncle, let's just pick a nice round number, like tons!! It wasn't a Mac or IBM, it was an Atari and Commodore combination, which was more conducive to games than papers. One of our favorites was a really low budget football game called Cipher Football. There were only two teams with six players to a side. There were three different sets of offense with three running and passing plays and three different defensive sets with three formations. Too confusing? Try too simple. The players were the funniest part. They were made up of about eight to ten squares squished together. The quarterback could control the ball in flight. He could almost complete a circle. I always won at the beginning killing Dan by 40-50 points and he would get really upset and angry. Sometimes he would quit the game because he was so pissed. I had figured out the passing game so I would throw bombs and score in no time. Then he would try and totally fail and then try to run, but I knew where he was going and sacked him. This was one of those games where if the defense calls the same formation as the offense it was a practically an automatic sack. We were addicted. More than anything, we just wanted to learn how to play the silly game. The white team was the best for some reason, so I would let him play with them. Eventually he learned to throw and our games became a lot more competitive and he actually started to win and I was the one getting frustrated, yet we played all day and night, taking a break with some of our other favorite games for a little while.

Strip Poker was a hell of a tension breaker after an exciting game of Cipher. We didn't compete with each other, just with the computer. We had to be careful though because his parents didn't know about this naughty game. We felt we were very mature for seventh graders and that we could handle a little graphic nudity. A lot of hours were put into this game. There were six girls, some harder to undress than others, but we learned that the hard way. The game wasn't very fair because we would get one practically naked then we would go on a huge losing streak being dealt the worst hands on the planet. We exceeded our frustration limit on many occasions when we would stop, think, and regroup with more determination than ever before. Luckily, in one of our annoyed tantrums, we hit certain buttons in a special way that made the screen all messed up and when it cleared up there was a sexy naked computer poker dealer. Hey baby. We were so pumped. We immediately retraced our steps and tried to figure out the special key combo. Eventually we were lucky and tried it on all the girls, unfortunately it only worked on some of them. This took some fun out of the game because we would just go straight to the naked girls without playing a single hand. I can still picture the orange screen, the sound of the cards being dealt and the cheesy threats the dealers made if we were to lose the next hand. After taking all the fun out of Strip Poker, we reverted to the more athletic kinds of games.

Hardball was a great baseball game which we played a lot after the Poker discovery. Once again there were only two teams to choose from, red and blue, and the blue team had more big hitters, hence was the better team. To be fair, we alternated playing with the blue team, but Dan usually took the win. The secret was good pitching and perfect timing when hitting the ball. I was only good at infielding and decent at pitching, so he would usually crush my pitches all over the park. It was frustrating at times, but I realized that I always won at Cipher Football, so we were even which kept the competition element more interesting. Before we started playing we would always make roster changes, putting in all the best hitters. Sometimes, if we were desperate, we would switch different positions around. Instead of having a second baseman batting .278, we might put a left fielder batting .285 in his place. However, this strategy tended to backfire quite a lot because we would make more errors in the field which allowed more men on base, hence more runs. We modified this strategy by only switching outfielders around because they basically do the same thing no matter where they play. Anything and everything made a difference to us, we just wanted to win. This was good competitive fun which would keep us in on the weekends, but eventually his Atari computer became a thing of the past and a new computer with new games came along.

A couple months later my Dad was given an IBM from work which was a great addition to the study in my view. A smart move with incredible future potential. NHL Ice hockey was my first purchase. The pictures on the back of the box looked unbelievable, but it turned out to be a little disappointing. The teams consisted of practically all the NHL teams, but you were either red or blue when you played. The players weren't very detailed at all, their skates and sticks were black and the rest of their bodies were one color and very boxy. Another problem was that it was hard to score goals at first and the goals were rigged most the time. I used to score on the opening face-off. I would knock over my opponent with my stick then wind up a slap shot which would usually be saved, but on occasion it would trickle through the goalies body. I made my own team and recruited and made my own players. I loved making my own players. I was given a certain amount of trading/recruiting points which I usually used up right at the beginning. The worse you did, the more points you would receive the following season, so I would sacrifice a season or two and lose to get more points. I soon became addicted to the game. I became really good and learned all the scoring secrets and I even won the Stanley Cup the majority of the time. I was interested in player and season stats, so I made sure I did well and was at the top in every category. I remember playing late at night with the baby blue screen illuminating the dark study. Each game took about half an hour each and I would play an entire season of ten games at once if I was really in the mood. I can still hear the piercing sound of the whistle, the ticking of the player's stick on the ice when they passed or shot, and the siren after a goal. It was a fun game most the time and kept me glued to the computer, but I remember a couple times when the computer was blatantly making themselves win and I got so pissed I was ready to toss the computer out the window. I was absolutely furious. I think my parents thought I was a little loony and getting way too involved with the game. I begged to differ. The computer was cheating and that wasn't fair. Once again, I eventually lost interest and I moved on to more challenging adventure games.

In the late 1980's Sierra was a popular computer game company and one of their best adventure games, and my personal favorite, was the King's Quest series. I was a rookie in the adventure game world, but the graphics were incredible so I had to try them. I instantly fell in love with King's Quest I and II. I had to buy the hint book to help me play, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do a thing. It was exciting to explore a different world on the computer where you had to rescue the princess in order to win, but this was no easy goal. I had to make potions out of feathers, lard, beetles, fairy dust, and anything else you could imagine and if you didn't have a certain ingredient you couldn't make the correct potion. There were creatures to fight and run from, trolls that stole your money, wizards and warriors, and an entire realm of imagination where anything could happen. These games were monthly commitments because they were way too complicated and long to win in a night or a week. I never won any of the King's Quest series in the end. When I stopped playing computer games they had five out and the fifth was supposed to be a graphical paradise, but I tried playing the first four and failed, so the fifth wasn't too appealing. I soon learned that the adventure games were tons of fun if you were good at it. The problem was that I ended up waiting around all the time for certain things to fall, pick me up, open, close, or just be in a certain spot, but they never were for me so I got annoyed and basically gave up. I stopped playing games on the computer for a couple of years until the summer of my junior year in high school.

My best friend from high school, Seth, discovered a game that blew my mind. It wasn't your ordinary game where you won or lost, it was a game where you built your own city, it was SimCity 2000. One day I came over and he was playing it and I immediately became mesmerized by it. He was making roads, plumbing, railroads, subways, bus systems, airports and even seaports and that was the fun of the game, to make your own imaginary city. I loved the idea. We finished making his city called CreekSide Crossing, then we waited to collect all the money from taxes. There were these mega residential units called arcologies which could house up to 65,000 people and if you get 50 of them you get SimCity. To this day I have yet to get SimCity and my present city has over 50 arcologies. I think the problem was that I've been using a code that gives you $500,000 whenever you need it so the program doesn't consider it to be valid. Like most of the computer games in my past, this game consumed tons of my free time. Seth and I would even get beer and play on a Friday night and our other friends would come over and join the fun. It was incredibly addictive and I ended up getting SimCity 2000 for my birthday.

Computers and computer games are probably the fastest growing industry today. It's funny to look back on the games I used to play and games a could play now, but no matter what kind of game it is, it is guaranteed to take up a lot of your time. Certain games just glue you to the screen. It's almost as if you are in a trance which you can't fight. Time is nothing and time is fast when immersed in a good computer game. I have shared a lot of great times with my best friends just playing games on the computer on the weekend. I have also had some quite intense fights and disagreements over a game. Computer games are extremely addictive and kids can't get enough and computers are getting more advanced as the years go by. As the computers get better, so do the games and so does the fun.

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