What is the true meaning of highscores in video games? I may not have so accurate details but I can tell you my points and views on this issue. I sure do have experiences about playing very different kinds of video games…or computer games (What would you call them?) in arcades and in a living room. So let’s dive in.
I did a quick Google search with phrase “highscores in video games”. I found articles about a movie called “High Score” but there weren’t any articles about this topic. So this is my idea to write a bit about this topic. I came to this as I was playing Commando Arcade, a C-64 game, that had a high score table in it.
To me high scores haven’t been so important. Today we have characters inside games that have a lot of features which is telling about the diversity of todays games. There is more data moving while you play. But back in the age where Commodore 64 was the best there was a different time.
So high scores in games like these were actually very important and they told the player a lot about how they were doing in the game and how much they had progressed. And if you were playing in an arcade and you had a high score on some machine it was a good way to build a reputation for yourself (or actually for your nickname or anything that could be displayed on the list as a name back then).
Today, we have so many measures to discuss about your character in your favourite video game. For example you have experience points. Many modern games have these features that were introduced in the form of role playing games. They are now mixed with sport games so they have a character that can develope it’s abilities. Games have become more complex as the power of the systems has increased.
Sometimes I don’t feel like playing the newest games. Then it’s time for me to get relaxed playing some retro games that are somewhat more simple. That’s why I like these old games. And it also takes me back to feel some nostalgia.
Why do you play? How long did you play that game this time? You should get a better hobby! These are some comments made by people that are not so much into gaming. I get this sometimes. This blog post is trying to explain what it is in gaming that keeps drawing our attention and some reasons why it is an enjoyable activity and why do we spend so much time playing games.
Playing video games has been popular since the first known video game. I am talking about a certain game here. It was called “Tennis for Two”. It was introduced in 1958. Here’s the link to Wikipedia if you want to go read some more facts about this game. As a game it was as simple and basic as can be. Let’s think about this for a while. In 1958 video games were something new. There must have been something very interesting here for a human being. What games have that draw our attention? What makes us want to play more and more and until we are exhausted and tired?
One thing is our natural rewarding system. When something positive happens on the screen or when we accomplish something very meaningful our nerve system gives us a small dose of dopamine. This dose becomes larger when a person uses some sort of drug. This leads to a kind of a malfunction with this system and makes us depressed for a short period of time. This is how this natural system that has been built to our brains functions. So achieving our goal in a game gives us a reward.
I have also one point about collecting games. Why do we want more and more all the time. You know how this is. You get many great games. You are satisfied for some time but eventually you want more. You buy more games. And this, let’s give it a name that is somewhat related to programming, “loop”, keeps repeating. This has something to do with our human beings natural behavior. We are collectors by nature. That’s how human beings started their path. They were hunters and they also collected things they found from their surroundings.
These points can be true. They might be true and they might explain something. This however doesn’t take away all the things that make you or me enjoy playing video games. I have my reasons why I keep playing. It gives something for me. For me it is a way to get loose from the stress I get from studying or working. Is gaming expensive? I would say no because it isn’t as expensive as some common hobbies like ice hockey for example is. It isn’t as healthy if you think about the matter. Is it childish? I think today gaming is becoming more and more a hobby for a person of any age. There are already some very old people that play video games. I think today games have a very diverse content and they make people more active and this makes our entertainment more challenging for the growing audience.
So there are things that can explain this phenomenon. It still doesn’t take away things a player has learned while playing. I for example gained lots of skills in a foreign language that was actually English. Gaming is lots of fun. Collecting games can draw you away from using drugs or alcohol. We have our reasons to behaving how we do. Gaming is a hobby for lots of people. They have a reason to play. And I think we can learn a lot about human nature also by playing the games that inspire us and keep uplifting our minds. So, let’s keep on playing!
They say that nowadays most PC games are sold as digital copies. I buy latest games today for PS4 and I am not so keen on latest PC games. I had to face this problem as I was planning to buy a laptop computer back in this years July. I assumed that my new laptop would have an optical drive of some kind. At least I was hoping it would have one. Finally it didn’t.
I have a large, well okay, huge, collection of games as physical copies. This includes lots of PC games. I find my retro kinds of games mainly from flee markets or from game shops bargain sales. I know there is these kinds of shops on the internet that you can buy a huge collection of games and they can be old, new, classic or not so known. I know there are lots of people doing this. This could be a way for me too to collect and buy games.
So this issue was current when I had a new, fresh, laptop computer, that had latest Windows operating system on it. But there were no games. There were no software applications. If I wanted to play something I would have to install it from somewhere. And I didn’t have an opportunity, this time, to install from CD-ROM or DVD. I actually went and spent (nice rhyming there) about 45 euros for an external DVD drive, but lets explain my next point first…
The way I remember Steam was mainly as irritating obstacle for me as I was trying to install a game to my own PC. It didn’t allow me to install a game that was registered by another user. I have bought all-in-all about ten games from flee market that I wasn’t able to install or eventually play. And I blamed Steam for it. I became more cautious. If a game had “Steam” on its back side I didn’t buy the used game. This was my view.
As I installed and activated Steam on my new computer I suddenly noticed that Steam enabled me to import all the games that were synchronized to my Steam account. I mean I was able to play any game that I had bought and that were supporting Steam. That’s very good. I think that’s amazing! I don’t have to depend on the physical copy of a game. I can pay for it and register so I can play it on any PC. I say this once more – this is very nice.
Are we going to see more this kind of movement towards digital markets when we are talking about purchasing latest games for latest gaming consoles and computer? The time will tell. I might not be ready for my PlayStation to be only digital but maybe I will buy someday in the future a PC that doesn’t have an optical drive.
Back in 1993 I was a young kid and I heard some of my class mates talk about this new game that was said to be totally awesome. They kept talking about it. Our crappy PC that our family had wasn’t able to run it. So I played it with my friends computer. And it definitely was something we players hadn’t seen before.
Creators of this game, mainly John Romero and John Carmack, brought to us a game that had never-before-seen graphics and which was also very violent. I remember a long conversation that I had as a kid about does Doom have some kind of a plot in it. You basically walk around and shoot monsters. But there is some kind of a story included though. You are a soldier that is ordered to go to work at Phobos, a moon of Mars, but someone has accidentally opened a teleport to hell. Everyone else is dead. You are figthing monsters from hell all by yourself.
Back in the day graphics were blurry. Just compare the original game to newer Doom released in 2016 and you clearly see the difference. Violence does exist but now graphics tell you more accurately what happens if you for example cut a zombies head off with a chain saw. Some people claimed already in 1993 that games were too violent. This kind of discussion is of course necessary but I think you can not blame solely games for real life violence. My opinion in this issue is that a healthy person can draw a line to what happens in game and how you act in real life. Of course everyone has an opinion but lets not, again, go there.
So how exactly Doom impacted gaming? Well, it certainly brought a 3D experience to larger audience. Makers of Doom had already released Wolfenstein 3D some years earlier. There was this new genre starting to rise its head. It was the birth of a genre called First Person Shooters. And I think Doom is the father of all FPS games that came later. If Doom wouldn’t have been released there wouldn’t be games like Quake, Half-Life, Unreal, Soldier Of Fortune and so on. Doom started it all. This might also be the reason why gaming industry started to grow towards games that included textures and 3D models. Doom was definitely a real pioneer in this formation of gaming that was yet to come even more popular.
Doom started its journey to minds of gamers as a PC game. There was one particularly smart way to release a game that was used by Romero and Carmack. It was called shareware. It worked like this – You could copy the first episode free and if you, or when you, liked the first part, you could purchase the whole game. This was first time that this kind of releasing of a game was used. And it was genious. Doom was also ported to many gaming consoles including Sony PlayStation and Super Nintendo. One of the best versions of Doom could be the one released on Nintendo 64.
Doom made a comeback in 2016 as the game was released to modern gaming systems. There have been numerous Doom games and listing them all would be pointless. You must not forget Doom Eternal that was released just weeks ago. It’s the latest Doom game right now. I think nobody seriously has doubts about how great game this really is. If you still think this game didn’t have impact on the whole gaming industry I will answer that it sure did shape me and some people I know as players of computer and video games.