As I was playing games on my iPhone this morning, I reflected on the ancient games I played decades ago, how far and quickly technology has progressed, and what features make an addictive game. I suspect these reflections will result in a few posts.
My electronic game playing had a long history. It started in the 1980s, during the early days when personal computers first came into China. At the time both my parents worked in an electrical engineering technology research institute, therefore I got an early exposure. Even though it was only a very basic number-matching game on a small screen with sharp green letters and symbols, I was hooked. Later came color monitors and I was addicted to more sophisticated games like load runner, decathlon, bartender, and one involved a bird jumping up and down piled blocks. These were still in the DOS environment, long before the GUI days.
Of course, the time spent on playing games on a computer was very limited. Back in those days, we still played mostly with real people in real life – group activities outdoors and chess or cards indoors. Not to mention playing time was far less than studying time.
At some point a good friend gave me a hand-held Tetris game console and I was on it day and night. I was very motivated to beat my own top scores (I still am today). I played until most buttons broke off. That was the end of it and my parents had a sigh of relief.
Then came the revolutionary Windows! I immediately indulged in Minesweeper and Freecell. I don’t want to boast but my Minesweeper scores were second to none. And I had a spreadsheet to keep track of the Freecell games I completed, with a goal to finish all 32,000 of them. I went at it for years and crossed out at least 22,000, before the original 32,000 were lost among the updates and new versions that rendered my tracking meaningless.
At about the same time, in 1993 I believe, I, along with my parents and friends, enjoyed playing the first versions of Rich (大富翁). It was still under DOS so the images were rugged, but we had so much fun! Talking about lands and buildings and cash and stocks as if they were real. I remember staying up all night for it. An added benefit of playing this game was that I learned about all the locations in Taiwan and Hong Kong and their real estate values.
My all-time favorite game is 仙剑奇侠传. It is a beautiful story about love, sacrifice, trust, courage, magic, finding the way, fighting the evils, and achieving the ultimate good. I played it at least five times from start to finish. Even though I already knew how the story would progress and end, I still enjoyed the process accompanied by the awesome images and music. This game was made into a movie years later.
To be continued…