Pelican Smith

When I Was Your Age

When I was your age I didn't spend all day running around like an idiot, chasing after a ball or pulling nasty animals out of ponds. No sir, I spent all day watching television. And we were damn glad to get that television. We appreciated it.

And then came Pong. Perhaps you remember Pong. Two little blips smacking at a little blip bouncing back and forth across your television? Pong was actually a coin operated arcade game, but I never saw it there. No, I saw Pong at a friends house running on his old Atari 2600.

The concept of playing video games at home was entirely new, and Atari was bought out by Warner Communications for $28 million in anticipation of what might come to be. Unfortunately, the original 2600 sold for an astronomical $250, a price that most consumers wouldn't pay today for a new game system.

Space Invaders sold the Atari. This was the first commercially successful video arcade game to be ported to a home system, and kids bought it up. I bought it up. Space Invaders rocked. So did the whole slew of other cartridges you could get for the 2600 - Asteroids, Battle Zone, Centipede, Shooting Gallery, Rampage, and about 1000 others.

Later I got a Commodore 64. Now this was fun. 64K of memory. The computer was entirely built into the keyboard. Better yet, the C64 was more than just a gaming system. You could write your own programs, run office software, and just about every other thing you could do with todays systems. The graphics wasn't as nice, but the fun was still there.

At work, those kind old VAX clusters ran Rogue, and if you followed the Rogue link and saw the picture, but never played the game, then I've probably lost you. But Rogue was also revolutionary. In this game you followed no set script, but descended into a dungeon that was unique every time. Hack, slash, and generally avoid work - a formula of guaranteed success.

Alas, time passes, and these games fade into history. It's hard to find an Atari 2600, a C64, or even a VAX anymore, but thankfully they are not forgotten. Welcome to the world of emulation.

Emulators turn your PC into the system that is being emulated by modeling the instruction set of the original computer, and translating it to your hardware. The games that you loved as a kid can be played again, in their original format. Indeed, these are not ports of the games, but the original games as they were originally programmed.

In most cases, you can play these ROM games on your home system without concern for licensing, due to the unavailability of the original hardware. The game manufacturers let you do this to maintain the historical perspective. However, some game systems insist that you have the original copy of the game before you download the ROM to play on your PC. Others say you must delete the ROM after some period of time, such as 24 hours.

Either way, be like I was when I was your age. Quit studying and get down to the hard, tireless business of saving the universe. Summers come and go. School books come and go. But wasting your day on frivolous entertainment is a hobby which lasts forever.

Note: I doubt very much that there is a VAX VMS emulator for the Intel PC. Sorry.

5 Links to Make You Stop Thinking

  1. Classic Gaming
  2. Zulak's Nintendo ROM Page
  3. Archaic Ruins
  4. Ranger Center
  5. Pong

Go to the previous page. Go to top of this page. Go to the next page.