In 1970, the movie Patton became a top-grossing film of the year, earned eight Academy Awards, and starred George C. Scott as the brilliant, eccentric World War II tank commander General George S. Patton. At a time when the country was mired in jungle warfare in Vietnam, in which tanks played relatively little role, audiences warmed to the epic story of America’s fast-moving tactical victories in the “good war” a quarter-century earlier. Tanks fired the imagination of not only movie-goers, but game players as well.
On a recent stroll through the arcade in The Strong's eGameRevolution exhibit, I recalled a favorite childhood memory of my hometown arcade. During the early to middle 1990s, even as arcades declined, young gamers like me hurried to our local arcades after school to pick fights. No, these weren’t real fights, but some players left with sore fingers from mashing buttons and injured egos from too many lost battles.
Most everyone is some sort of a gamer, whether that means you play Call of Duty to strategically advance and complete missions or you simply log onto your iPhone for a quick game of Words with Friends. Electronic games are everywhere. The Strong has the advantage of interpreting electronic game history in the context of play history.
Before I came to The Strong, I taught writing and literature courses at the Rochester Institute of Technology and elsewhere, which fits right in with writing electronic games blogs. As video games occupy more and more of our playtime, it is not surprising that some educators are finding opportunities to use gaming to teach writing and critical reading skills. Here are three examples I find particularly interesting:
A few years ago, I asked my students in an American cultural history course to identify logos and slogans from their lifetime. Not surprisingly, since advertising bombards us through print, radio, television, and the Internet, the students did this easily (try this Logo Quiz game for yourself). After this exercise, the class discussed how advertising illustrates changes in social and cultural history.
“And so, the Four Horsemen were unleashed as foretold, and their names are Famine, Pestilence, War and Death. I am the line that separates life from death, war from peace and good from evil. I am known as Abaddon.
I have wanderlust. In college, I found like-minded companions in Dean and Sal from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. In one passage, Sal recognized why he felt compelled to travel and explained that he had “no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, rolling under the stars.” I still relate to his sentiments; however, my lifestyle does not always permit sporadic adventures. Now when I feel the need to hit the open road, I turn to video games for adventure and exploration.
Have you ever yearned for a particular gift only to receive an inferior substitute? That I imagine is what happened under a number of Christmas trees in the mid-1970s, when Marx Toys marketed its T.V. Tennis, an electromechanical version of home video game systems. ICHEG recently acquired a working copy of T.V. Tennis.