3 sides of the same coin

This section of verbosity is here to let our editors complain, moan, or generally gripe about nearly any topic they feel like. Each editor generally holds a totally different viewpoint about every subject (it's amazing they haven't already throttled one another), so this should be moderately entertaining. This issue's topic is computer gaming. Feel free to write to the editors with your own opinions.

side 1

Simply put, computer gaming ain't what it used to be. I don't care how many cool 3-D effects you cram into a game, if it isn't fun, it just isn't fun. I recently read in a magazine that we are in the middle of the "Golden Age of Computer Gaming." I retort with a hearty "Bah!"

It is my opinion that the computer gaming industry has been on a steep decline since around 1991. I pinpoint this year because of the release of one product in particular--Sierra's King's Quest V. Now, the King's Quest series has always been one of the most anticipated games to loom around the corner. It was KQ5 that first introduced gamers to the VGA, point-and-click interfaces that are so popular in games today. It also was one of the poorest attempts at story-telling and computer gaming in the history of the business.

Don't get me wrong! There have been good (and even excellent) games released since then. For instance, id's release of DOOM marked a revolution both technologically and due to the fact that it was a shareware product originally. However, the first DOOM-clone that popped up threw the state of computer gaming even further into a pit it's still struggling to claw itself out of. There's no creativity left. If a company can throw together a half-assed first-person shooter, they can be assured of making a profit. Why risk going out on a limb?

The problem, in my opinion, can be attributed to two factors. Number one: software companies are too busy trying to figure out what they can do as opposed to pondering what they should do. Hence, we are left with visually-stunning, interactive multimedia experiences that fall a little short in the realm of playability. The other problem is that software companies have become real companies. They aren't a few programmers having fun anymore. Companies like Origin and LucasArts employ hundreds of people. Meanwhile, smaller programming teams like id and Blizzard (makers of Warcraft) have released two of the most successful games of the 90's.

This gamer still has a soft spot in his heart for classic games like Zork, Space Quest 1, Stunts, and Civilization. Real gamers aren't looking for SVGA graphics and breath-taking orchestrated sound. We want a good time. Companies could give it to us five or six years ago. Why can't they now?

Jess felt it necessary to plug Space Quest in there.

side 2

So, you've bought your new computer, eh? Shiny new box with all the bells and whistles. What'd you get? Oh, a P-166 with how much.. OH, 40 megs of RAM? Wow, that's something to be proud of! Great machine, my kudos to you. So, what's the first thing you're gonna run?
...Word Perfect 5.1?
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is what using a computer has become these days. Sure, everyone wants a machine with beef. It's the next evolutionary step up from putting a V-8 dual overhead cam in your car (Before that, people compared the size of their clubs). Power is nice...but it isn't everything.

Most of us out in la-la land don't need these punk-machines, complete with 128-bit, dyed-purple video cards and body-piercing 32768x speed CD-ROMs. That's just one more thing that can go wrong, in my eye. But at the same time, the desire to own one of these machines can't possibly be the only factor in this, the race to own the first Mustang GT Pentium on the block. Something else is involved, and I figured out what it is.


Yes, I'm postulating that the gaming market is what causes people to end up buying these boxes with racing stripes. Gateway might as well advertise like a NASCAR vehicle, rather than use that Windowy, bitmap-esque cow print.

"P'shaw," you say. "Gaming merely lives on existing technology, and makes it better." Perhaps.. but does even a plurality of the computer-owning population have one of these systems? It's just like those terrible web-pages where people live their whole lives on a T1 -- forgetting about the 14.4 user, choking on a 600x420 imagemap. I'll stop short of saying its a repressed case of elitism, but it's certainly nothing the mainstream public can digest.

I, in truth, have held this theory ever since I saw the history of Wing Commander unfold before my eyes. I owned a 286, and a friend of mine owned a 386. He laughed at me when he could run it and I I couldn't. But who was laughing in the next two releases (each of which had exponential growth only comparable to that of steroidal muscle mass), that by the third release, one needed a high-end 486 to run it decently at all! This trend continues today, as well -- read what Mr. Williams has to say in the interview, about future Sierra releases.

In all, I truly feel that we're choking on the silicon dust of the game developers. The trend of industry-necessitated power for picture-perfect graphics has done nothing but force the average consumer to shell out cash for something he or she doesn't need. Do what you may.. I'll stick with Rogue.

Corey is generally chuffed with the gaming industry's latest efforts.

side 3

Windows has ruined computer gaming. With the ability to "point and click" at everything in the cyberworld, games have become incredibly inane. IMHO, people need to pass a proficiency test for DOS before being allowed access to computer games. The very idea of people not knowing how to run a setup or install program yet playing solitaire to their hearts content makes me nauseous.

I grew up using a TI-99A and a 286-8 with 640 K of RAM and DOS 3.20. I had to learn to actually use the computer before I could do anything on my machine. But with the widespread use of Windows, all that is required is a click or two. Even the games are point and click now.

Let me tell you a story. I know someone who worked very hard to buy his own computer. It is a P100 with 32 megs of RAM. He bought it when that was top of the line. His dorm room is usually full of people playing mindless games on it. He made the comment once that he had a "$5000 Doom terminal." His major is Computer Engineering and he needs a powerful machine. He understands it and respects it; other people who don't know jack have no idea what his specs mean. It is somewhat akin to giving a paraplegic a Porsche 911 Turbo to drive. They can't do much, but they can do it really fast.

Computer games should be reserved for those who respect computers and treat them as a serious hobby or work with them for a living. You think that you're hip because you can "surf the web?" This is our playground, and you need to respect our space.

Seth is nostalgic for "the good old days".

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