08/14/02
First Video Games
    by Laurie Taylor

The first video game, which came out in the 1970s, was a virtual tennis game made of two lines for the two paddles and a circle for a ball, and was later aptly titled "Pong." But Spacewar, an equally simple game which appeared around the same time, is often given credit for being the first video game. While very different, both games aimed at being entertaining by bringing computer users into playful relationships with their hardware and software. Video games have certainly gotten far more complicated from these simple beginnings; adding narrative, character, colors, sound, and spectacular graphics. But aside from their ability to help develop such things as eye-hand coordination of the mouse and keyboard interface, video games remain at their core a medium of entertainment. But that doesn't mean that video games can't also be non-violent, challenging, and even -- dare I say it? -- intelligent.

But don't just take my word for it, try out some of the free and absorbing video games that are available online at such sites as Shockwave.com Shockwave offers many games in shortened versions for free if played online, or the full games can be purchased and downloaded to be played at any time. The games are all simple and easy enough to begin. Then, once you get some basic eye-hand coordination and pattern recognition skills down, you can move to higher levels. One of the games you can try out on Shockwave is Collapse. In Collapse, the player must click on blocks to remove them before they reach the top of the game screen, just like in that granddaddy of one whole family of video games, Tetris. If the blocks hit the top, then the game ends. To eliminate the blocks, the player has to click on one block that is connected to at least two others of the same color. The game starts easily, but gets increasingly difficult and demanding, all the while improving the player's eye-hand coordination and ability to process information quickly and accurately. And, happily, for all those parents who are concerned about the kinds of video games their kids will be playing over all those hours of summer vacation, there are no weapons or explosions, no carnage or mayhem to disturb the peaced of your household and your children's psyches -- just pure, engrossing fun.

Copyright 2002 Laurie Taylor

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