My first interactive experience occurred when I was approximately 6 or 7 years old. It involved a black and white television set and an Atari game console called "Pong." I'm sure many of you may remember it (If not, here's a link to a Web site that provides a great history of Pong.) My eyes mist up when I even think about those first interactive experiences. They're kind of like my first bicycle ride, except they're not really real.
I graduated from Pong to playing my parents' good friends' Atari 2600...I never owned my own 2600 console, but I was a full-on video game junkie when I went over to their house. From there, it was on to Colecovision, where I experienced the grandeur of such games as "Downhill Racer" and "Pitfall." Later, I would warm up to such classic standup machines as "Space Invaders," "Asteroids," "Defender", and, in high school, "Donkey Kong." If only I had a nickel for every quarter I dropped into all those machines.
I was destined to end up in the world of interactive. I twitch, therefore I am.
We've come a long way from the Pong of yesteryore. I just bought my first game console in several years. Despite trying to stay on the bleeding edge of information technology, I purposely stay one generation behind on gaming consoles. My rationale: I can get a good deal on used games via E-Bay or my local second-hand gaming resellers, and more importantly, there are plenty of tips-and-tricks to help me navigate the suckers. So, when I heard the X-Box 360 was coming out this Christmas, I decided it was time to buy the first gen X-Box (IBM will be supplying PowerPC chips for the next gen coming out later this year)
First off, let me just say this: These are not your father's...err, brother's...video games. I started off slow...well, kind of...purchasing a driving game. That was pretty cool, but I got bored with it pretty quickly. Then, I bought a copy of Halo 2, wondering what all the fuss had been about.
Well, here it is: I haven't eaten or slept in four days. When I do sleep, there are big animated monsters called "Brutes" and "Prophets" and "Jackals" chasing me through this slick 3-D universe! I see space battles and and laser beams and don't know where fantasy ends and reality begins! I'm thinking I may have to check myself into the Betty Ford clinic for addicted gamers...
Okay, it's not quite that bad. But my hats off to the Halo 2 development team...it may be old news for a lot of 14 year-olds, but I'm still on the first flush and all I can think to myself is, Man, why didn't they have this game around when I was 10!
While I'm embarrassed to admit this publicly, I had to buy a guide book to learn my way around (and break through the second level). You should know that it's okay if you need to buy a book: These games were not invented for people who started off their gaming careers playing the original Atari Pong, where your primary mission was to follow a white dot around a black universe. No, this is more along the lines of operating a flight simulator for an F-16. Guide books good...tumbling around getting shot by the mean, animated monsters who haunt your dreams very bad.
Back at the IBM ranch, you should know that we're exploring ways to take some of the key fundamentals of these new and innovative gaming technologies and platforms, and find ways that we can use them to help our customers and how business is conducted. It's not a long leap from the text-based instant messaging we use today to virtual co-location, where we can meet and interact with our colleagues and continue eliminating time and distance while enhancing our ability to meet and collaborate with one another. Check out the IBM gaming blog to tune into some fascinating discussions among my colleagues about where gaming could be taking us.
Meanwhile, if you don't see me blogging for a few days, it's okay: I'm just taking out a few monsters.