I am going to attempt to stroll down memory lane with the various generations of video game consoles that I dealt with personally (not including the home pc era!) I am sure my students can relate to the joy that I encountered when I first received my own video games console. As educators we should embrace these tools since they offer instant Video-Audio-Kinestic benefits.
1st Gen (1975)
Pong – I actually got to play this game at my neighbor’s house across the street from mine. I remember all the kids around the neighborhood would be at my friend’s house until his mom said enough was enough..
2nd Gen (1980)
Atari 2600 – On one Christmas day in the early ’80s I received my 2600. I remember playing and mastering the ricochet of Combat! The only game I owned for a long time. Later learned how to to take a joystick apart to mod it for the use of a lefty! In order for me to get a new game, I had to work really hard in school to get the ever so popular Pac-Man! When I finally obtained this game, I believe I spent hours trying to get a high score! I can still here the “bonk-bonk-bonk…” going on in my head from those days. Turning over to the dark-side… Had a friend that owned an Intellivision; I could not figure out the controller because I was always handed the one without that plastic card (or he just lost all of them). I had no clue of which button to push! I also could not get into that unwieldy controller. Heard about Colecovision but I nor any of m friends owned a system.
Please note that between these two generations, I would go to the local arcade at the mall or my parents would drop me off at an official arcade where I would pump quarters/tokens into the stand-up games. For many hours and dollars, I would learn to master Track & Field, Centipede, Gorf, Bazerk, Tron, Spy Hunter, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac Man, Pac-Man Jr, Donkey Kong, Galaga (still favorite!) and Bump & Jump, Mr. Do, Dig Dug, Moon Patrol, and oooh yes… Dragon’s Lair! Once the graphics of the video game consoles improved, the popularity stand-up arcade games died out…
3rd Gen (1985)
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) – I ran into this controller in my first job as a sales associate for Toys R Us. I remember the hype about this system (sold like hot cakes!) due to the great combo game of Super Mario Brothers & Duck Hunt! I remember the system that had the robot, and the other system had some type of floor pad. I guess that floor pad deal goal was similar to Wii Fit which aim is to get the user to get up and exercise. Sega Master System graphics were great. I didn’t own either. However my little brother got one for Christmas and the kid down the street moved in our house and took over his console. Since the system usage was high from the kid down the street, yes, we ended up doing the “blow the cartridge until it played again” scenario. I’m sure you know what I mean.
4th Gen (1989)
Super Nintendo – Still working at TRU, I had the pleasure of playing all of these great systems. Super Nintendo sales took over the NES. I actually owned a TurboGrafx-16, but only owned a few games. Sega Genesis ruled the market (well, at TRU any way). I believe the best game at the time on this system was Altered Beast. I’m sure there were other titles, but this one stood out the most. I also believe that Madden Madness started on this system. Honestly, I know nothing about the Neo-Geo nor seen this product. Actually, after looking on wikipedia would be my first glimpse of the console!
5th Gen (1995)
Sony Playstation – When this system was released, I believe I was in basic training for the military. I saw one of the guys playing Madden (of course) on this system with awesome graphics! I was blown away! So blown away, I was a little hesitant in trying it with all of those buttons. It looked too complicated! The cool factor was high, however I was still not interested. Nintendo 64 – I saw this advertised on television, however I did not know anyone that owned one for me to comment on it.
6th Gen (2001)
Around this time, I was still not interested in video games. Even though my friends were gaming and having a blast of course playing Madden on the Playstation 2. Did not know much (and still don’t know) about the Nintendo GameCube, Sega Dreamcast,and the notorious Microsoft Xbox. One thing that I did hear was that the Dreamcast games could be duplicated, and thus killed that console. I actually finally received a PS2 from my nephew that got tired of it. So, after that, my love for gaming was reborn!
7th Gen (2006)
Playstation 3 – I needed a Blu-ray player and a console system that was reliable, so this one was the best bet. I picked up a 60GB used system from GameStop. So far, my experience with it has been unbelievable. Xbox 360 is around and tried to challenge the PS3 with the optical HD player the HD DVD, however this technology was not imbraced and failed miserably as Betamax format did in the past.
Nintendo Wii is just unbelievable. I think that I first ran into this console at a friend’s house. Unfortunately when it was released, the system was so scare, the stores failed to supply a demo unit for the user to check out.
In conclusion, after all of this being said, the majority of all of the games of the 4th generation and below are available free to play using an emulator on your computer or even on a Sony Playstation Portable. I am sure that as educators, we can use video games to demonstrate concepts and at the same time hold our screenagers’ minds captive.