Ok, so as quiet as it’s kept, there is a video gaming center on the campus at the University of Michigan. I am not going to publicly announce what the building is because I want to respect what they have amassed within their walls and I want to be able to go back and use that room again, so hush is the word. Although it is a public facility and anyone can use it, it’s just not for everyone. The largest reason behind the fact that this place isn’t made public knowledge is because if it were the items contained within this facility would, more than likely, not be in as good of condition as they are and everything appeared to be in really good condition.
When I walked in I immediately noticed some vintage consoles and then all of the games began coming into focus. Not hundreds…thousands of games. Now, of course, not every PC game was in the archives…that wouldn’t be possible, but there were so many there that I had and remembered. Some of my most favorite were the Descent series (original and II), Dragons Lair, Time Commando, Tomb Raider, and several Star Wars games. Personally, being in the over 50 crowd I enjoyed the games made for PC more. I think it is mostly because I was able to adjust the controls, use a joystick or mouse, and make the keyboard perform to my aspirations.
The emulator being used appeared to be called DOS Box 0.73 and it made me wish to God that I had kept all of my former PC games, which I did up until last year (yeah, I’m still kicking myself in the butt for that one). Especially Descent and Descent II. Those games were “the bomb” back when Windows 95 was “king”. Now although I was enamored with the PC games there were ALL of the other options. They had stand up game cabinets, Nintendo, X-Box, and, of course, PS4 with the virtual reality controls. (Insert Angle sounds here).
I played Doom on the PS4 system and IT WAS AWESOME!!! So, in keeping with the theme of my blog I have to make some comments on their system. The controls were pretty confusing. I only say that because there is a definite learning curve within this game using the VR headset and controls. The immersion into the game itself was pretty good. I enjoyed the view point; although, the VR headset was a little blurry at times. Now, in their defense, I didn’t take the time to see if there were any adjustments on the set. I just wanted to play. A problem I saw was in the tethering. There is a hard line attached to the headset but the game requires you to look around. 360 degrees, meaning that if you are in full FPS mode you may not be thinking about the cable that is slowly wrapping around your legs. We have wireless technology, I say, why not use it? Don’t get me wrong, I am SERIOUSLY considering buying into the PS4 now just because of this little 30 minutes of my life (which I consider quite well spent).
Prior to playing Descent or Doom I encountered two young students who were actually playing the game Candyland. I wish I had taken a picture of them but I have some of the audio on my phone from our conversation. This is relevant to me because I am in a class at the University of Michigan currently where we read an essay where an individual (Richard Rouse III) stated that this game wasn’t a game at all because it had a predisposition based on the cards and that all outcomes were predestined and this made it “not a game”. So, I am not even exaggerating right now as I, apparently, was in the right place at the right time. As I said, I asked them if I could “interview” them briefly.
I asked why they chose to play that specific game. The young lady stated that she hadn’t played it since she was six and the young man said that he had never played it. Before I approached them I heard their banter, and they were having a lot of fun and laughing about the game. After I approached them and was in conversation with them another student (from an entirely different University – I know because I also interviewed him as well later on) began telling me the origin of the game and how a nurse created it because the kids in her “program” needed something to do. In full disclosure it was Eleanor Abbott, who was a victim of polio that invented the game as a pastime for children who were recuperating from the same disease in the 1940’s.
Now I could probably write for hours about how great this place is but I figured I would just post a few pictures of the archive. As I mentioned there are tons of games in the archive. I will definitely be visiting this place again. Hopefully, after my daughter grows up a little more I will be able to take her here to experience some of the classics.