Sunday, March 12, 2017

Games of Imagination (Part 1)

Imagination is a child's most innocent behavior. During that imagination, every thought, every behavior, every action has a story of excitement which is indeed 'Oscar Winning'. Fighting imaginary dragons, climbing up tall mountains, playing a cop, driving a super-fast car or navigating a warship... being a kid was fun.

As a child, I was quiet energetic and a bit of a rebel. I loved watching cartoons and action movies and in the 90s it was all about Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Van Damme. Their movies were so awesome! They will always be 'Legends'. I imagined myself acting as John Connor and the Terminator coming to rescue me from that shiny, shape changing Metal Man (the teacher). One day, while going to class I was day dreaming about this and then when I reach the classroom I tell my Teacher, "I'll be back". She gave me that death stare, picked up the wooden scale and yelled at me to come forward in front of the entire class and open the palm of my hands. (You know what comes next...)

Sometimes an imagination would just be a mix of few movies and cartoons. I used to imagine being a Karate Kid with superpowers or a Power Ranger! I loved the Power Rangers, their kick ass stunts, turning into huge machine dinosaurs, beating evil mutants, jumping here and there, doing a cart-wheel on the middle of the road... it was so childish! Plus it wasn't just me who imagined being Power Ranger, even my friends did. We were a group of tiny Power Rangers re-imagining the episodes we watched on TV.
While growing up, I came across many imaginary friends, some with special powers, some an alter-ego, some just to blame at, some crazy adventures with oneself... but as we grew older, our imagination became less imaginative and we started dreaming about something more realistic. Thus began the shift from Fairy Tale imagination to a more Realistic imagination.

Welcome to the World of Gaming...

So... Why do Guys love their games so much? How can one individual get themselves involved for so many hours staring at a screen and get so lost in this fantasy world?

I've come across a handful of women who ask me these questions whenever I get engrossed with video games. Some of them are...

How come you guys forget that you have a girlfriend?
How and Why is your game so important than me?
What so good about this game?
Why don't you just get up and help me in the Kitchen?
Will you pause and look at me? I'm talking to you! 

For the last question, I've read somewhere that when a guy pauses his video game for a gal... Marry him!

Women find it difficult to understand, the basic emotions when a guy plays his video game, how much it means to him, how much of a struggle he has to overcome to achieve a goal, a task/puzzle that needs to be strategically completed, be victorious when you face a boss battle and what kinda of craze he has gone through to become a strong character inside the game. Well the struggle is real... (Virtually)  

The answers to all these questions are deep rooted and starts at a very young age.

During my pre-teen years, My parents gifted me video games and consoles at a very young age, first of them - The Nintendo, followed by Atari (Classic Console Game). These consoles were the beginning of converging the Realistic and Fairy Tale Imaginations. I remember the very first game I played was Super Mario on the Nintendo (Till date, Mario is a world-famous video game character and one of the most famous Japanese Mascots). So why is he so famous? How is he a mix of Realistic and Fairy Tale Imaginations? Well, simply because he's a plumber (a realistic, low paying, dirty job) who has a brother name Luigi and over the years his main goal is to rescue the love of his life (who keeps getting kidnapped) - Princess Peach by various villains like Bowser and Tatanga.  
Another realistic fact here is, Mario is not hunk or a dude or a macho man... he's a fat and short Italian-looking bloke who sacrifices his day-time job as a plumber just to rescue his love - Peach (She loves getting rescued and kidnapped I guess... but still loves Mario) Over the years, the basic goal of the game was - rescue the kidnapped and beat the kidnapper. In this adventure, he has made many friends along the way - Yoshi the cute looking green dragon, Mario can ride on him like a horse... some cool Anti-Heroes like Wario and Warluigi and many more...
These games were simple, easy to learn and competitive. At that age, he was my hero!
Here's a look at some of the most famous characters in the Super Mario Games.

I played Mario when it used look like this -

The latest 2017 game looks like this - The Transformation!

During the Mario-age, few more games peeked my interest. Especially Contra.  
Contra was the first 2-player game that I fell in love with. During my summer and winter school vacations, my parents used to send me to Mumbai where I lived with 'Dida' - My ever-loving Grandmother. Over there, I didn't have a group of friends but instead build friendships with my next door neighbors with Dida's help. Since I loved video gaming so much, she bought me a Nintendo NES. After my home-work (Mom used to fill a book with Math Questions for me to solve and make me practice whenever she's not around... Mathematics was not my strong subjects... It's still isn't);
I went up to my neighbors asking if Chintu and Pooja were there? Pooja was my very first female gamer friend. She was also a Tom-boy. [I'm sure she must have grown up to be beautiful (gamer) gal! :)] We used to sit for hours and play Contra. Time use to just fly, felt like the days were running short and saving a game was inevitable. (During those days, you couldn't save a game and continue later, you had to start from the beginning all over again - Hence the Struggle!)
(Every evening, seeing the below visual screen on the TV with Chintu and Pooja used to just make me so happy!)
What is Contra? 
Contra is about two dudes running through various Jungles and Underground Bases, killing different aliens, henchman. collecting some really cool and unique guns and fighting the ever-glorious Boss Battles. With every level, the game got tougher and faster. Another unique feature of the game was that if One of player dies, the 2nd player continues... (Chintu and Pooja were better gamers than me)

How is this a mix of Fairy Tale and Realistic Imagination?
Oh just play the game with a friend!

Somehow, while playing the same sort of video games, it got quiet monotonous with 8-bit, 16-bit graphics and then in one my birthdays, Dad gifted me my first computer with Microsoft Windows 95. I played so many games like, Need for Speed, Monster Truck, Road Rash, Frogger, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, to name a few... the graphics were new and refreshing. Better than the previous gaming consoles I've played. All of these games where quiet non-sensible and with new games coming out every day, my interest kept going fading away because there was so many games and at that time and age, you didn't have YouTube where you can view the game play or read reviews to judge how good the game is... You simply just bought the game without any R and D. There were some games like Need for Speed that helped me understand a bit of driving, road sense and understanding direction signs. It got further interesting when Microsoft introduced controllers and the biggest brand was the Sidewinder.

Below are the controllers that I've used.

This allowed me to play games that ranged from Flight Simulator, Car Racing Games and Arcade Gaming and the feeling of using a unique controller made the gaming experience even more energizing. This was the start of the Next-Generation gaming and the start to a whole new era...

The thrill slowly started to fade away with some games being more like puzzles and GK types. These games were more like a single player games and the other player was the computer.

Few years later and as I entered the troubled teenage life, I still played games but not as much. I still kept dreaming  of become a rebellious sorcerer, a capped crusader, a super saiyan... etc. When I shifted to Mumbai, I came across this superb car-(sort off, b'coz it used to flip over and shoot machine and laser guns)-action game called Rollcage.

This game allowed up to 4-players to play on a single-screen. I got all my building friends to come over to my home and play Rollcage. It was awesome and the feeling was amazing! After so many years, I finally found myself playing a video game with friends. My interest in gaming kick-started but this game was developed only for PC during that time.

The problem with PC gaming are the shit-loads of viruses, hard disk crashes, Auto Shut Downs, Buffers and the worst of it was the PC getting "Hanged".  Due to these errors, there came another beauty - The PlayStation which is primarily only for Gaming. I owned a PlayStation One but after few months of playing, my imagination for gaming, my fantasy of living in the virtual world faded and I began adding responsibilities... Basically I just grew older and my teenage life was coming to an end. There wasn't any space for my imagination to go wild, there were upcoming exams, tutorials, college projects, relationships, more friends, exploration possibilities, Internet, movies, TV shows and many more that have side tracked this part of life.

Somehow, the inner child still sleeps...
Lying dormant,
Waiting to wake up
When the time is right and the Game in sight.

Over the years the PlayStation has evolved drastically and now you can play music, connect with friends, watch Netflix, watch movies, join gaming communities, share images, videos, chat and many more! - that's now the PS4

Present Day... to be contd.

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