Video gaming now and then

From the Microsoft Store, Prudential Center, Boston (Photo: DY, 2014)

From the Microsoft Store, Prudential Center, Boston (Photo: DY, 2014)

After spending good chunks of my 30s playing video games, I’ve kinda shrugged my shoulders at them since then. But the other day I walked by the Microsoft Store in Boston, replete with a demo of the latest Xbox system on a widescreen TV, and I couldn’t believe how good the whole thing looked.

Two kids were playing the EA Sports FIFA 14 soccer game, and the graphics were jaw dropping…sharp, authentic, and from a distance looking like a World Cup match. And the player movements, at least in the hands of these skilled game players, were incredibly realistic, again almost like watching a televised soccer match.

Back in the day…

Oh my, we’ve come a long way, baby, from the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo systems that ate up many hours of my 30s!

Not to put down those classic game systems, which were the dominant platforms before the arrival of the Sony PlayStation. Both were powerful machines for their day, and developers squeezed every bit of computing power out of them to produce games that looked great and played deep.

It was on the Genesis, especially, that EA Sports carved out its dominant market share with titles like Madden Football and NBA Live, and I looked forward to every new release. But you didn’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy these gaming systems. Fantasy, adventure, arcade, strategy, and shoot-em-up titles also were in rich supply.

And then there was the original Nintendo Game Boy. Its graphics were primitive even by 1990s standards, but its portability and vast game library made it a hit.

The Genesis, Super Nintendo, and Game Boy systems also broke through to an older, mostly male market. The Game Boy was a favorite of male travelers, and on occasion articles about air travel trends noted how often flight attendants would encounter passengers too engrossed in their video games to notice the beverage cart going by.

And today?

I’m sure the graphics and game play of FIFA 14 are only the tip of the iceberg of today’s video game world. Presumably the library of games available today is even more appealing than back in the 90s, when I would frequent game stores.

As blown away as I was by this demonstration at the Microsoft Store, however, I didn’t find myself weighing a video game system purchase — at least not beyond a minute or two. Right now, video gaming wouldn’t fit into my already busy schedule. To really enjoy these games, it helps to be somewhat devoted to them. After all, the best video games have lots of depth to them, and the occasional player misses out on their richness.

But maybe someday, as other commitments and activities lighten, I’ll look over the popular gaming systems and rediscover the hobby. By then, Madden Football probably will come with virtual refreshments, so I can spare myself the real calories as I’m leading my Chicago Bears to their next (virtual) Super Bowl championship.


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