As a retired man with no wife, kids or pets, I have as many free hours in the day as there are hours in the day. I do sleep and eat, of course. And I visit with friends or family. After that, I’ve got plenty of time. A lot of it is spent on my computer. Some of that is playing video games. Turns out video games are bad for you.
Before video games were video games
Prepare yourselves! It’s time to go into the mothballed closet of things. Let me just put on this face mask and bring the duster in. Bleh.
Ah. Nice. Presenting the Wayback machine! Once more in service.
Today we journey back to that far off time, almost beyond mortal ken. That ancient age known as my teens.
No, the family had since given up the dependable woolly mammoth for one of those newfangled gas-things, but still, it was a time before…personal computers.
Yes, yes, I know. You thought that was only a rumor your parents told you to avoid buying you a new smartphone. Believe me it’s true. I was there!
Graphics? What graphics?
When I first latched onto my Commodore Amiga (an awesome machine for its time), it was just a few years after the groundbreaking Atari 2600 game console came out.
Wow, though. This was a thing you could write on. And draw and other stuff. And it saved to these cute little 3 1/2″ disks. So amazing!
Plus, it had video games. Well, not much, actually, but it did allow you to access something called BBS (bulletin board service), where you could download computer games.
Many of these were called “dungeon crawlers”. Basically, you took a character through winding “caves” and killed things to gain items to allow you to travel down further and kill more things to find more things, and on and on.
There were no graphics, per se. The game just used keyboard characters (like letters and hash marks) to define the “dungeons”.
It was awesome. I played for hours on end. Hours.
Turns out that was bad for me
Of course, I was young then. My eyes were strong and my stamina unlimited. I know, I tested it with those games.
Hours would go by. Sleep would occasionally be missed. Food was optional. And that was just a simple game.
Sure, I might get some side effects. Headaches, foggy thinking, red eyes. But, hey, I was having fun!
With great graphics comes great time lost
Shortly after getting my Amiga, a new type of dungeon game was released. Bard’s Tale threw everything on its ear.
Now, a stash of graph paper was needed to map out all these dungeons. Notations had to be made about clues and traps. Detailed stats needed to be kept about spells and weapons.
Hello. Do you know me? Numbers nerd, at your service. Oh dear, and my immersion could only go deeper.
Video games pause while working life takes over
Then comes graduation from college and “real” life. As in, working ungodly hours in retail.
After that, back to college for the second degree and working on making more money. A car, a home and one day, freedom.
But, no video games for me then. Nope, it was writing books and playing tennis. Enough time sitting in front of the computer writing and editing, no need for more on games.
The return of video games
For a while, I dabbled in games provided by Facebook. In fact, probably 90% of my “friends” on Facebook came from those games. Maybe two dozen of them count as real friends now.
Recently, I’m a little back into video games. Mostly, it’s a nostalgia tour. I’ve gone onto a platform called Steam in order to get access to… Bard’s Tale!
Yes, 30 years later, I’ve come full circle. But, in another toss at more recent nostalgia, I used the platform to find a farming game, similar to the old Farmville on Facebook, but without the stress of multiplayer.
I found a nice one (for only $1.79…hee!) and then I was badgered into trying something called “Stardew Valley”. It has graphics that make Pac-Man look like Pixar. But…
…I’ve been assimilated. Still avoiding multiplayer, but just solo…
Turns out video games are bad for you
Oh no! My old manic dungeon crawler disease has taken over. This game is so darn charming its hard to turn away. It has the farming. But it also has the dungeon crawling. And other stuff as well. I’m in trouble.
Except, I’m not a whippersnapper anymore. So, those eyestrain headaches are easier to come by. And my poor left arm and wrist are feeling the strain of hours upon hours of game play.
I didn’t expect this. All I was looking for was a nice, lazy farming game. Instead, I’ve got this addictive program with incredibly well thought-out interactions and game design.
So, eye strain and tendon stretching it is. Looks like I may get to use that new health care after all, for it turns out video games are bad for you.