Video Games Day is observed annually on July 8th to celebrate the video games that have augmented, and in many ways supplanted, the board games and toys of our grandparents’ generation. The earliest interactive gaming device, the “Cathode ray tube Amusement Device,” was created in 1947 and allowed a player to fire a missile at various fixed targets. Basic computers games like OXO (a tic-tac-to game), Tennis for Tow, and Spacewar! followed throughout the next tWO decades. The 1970′s ushered in the era of commercial coin-operated video games, as well as the first home console, the Magnavox Odyssey. When Atari released its home version of Pong in 1975, its success spawned an upswing in video game creation and sales. Today, with a wide array of platforms available and games that appeal to an ever-expanding demographic, video games are as popular as ever. And though games are sometimes criticized for inciting violence and lethargy in our youth, they actually provide many benefits including improved hand-eye coordination and concentration skills.
Although my brother is the real gamer in the family, in retrospect I’m realizing that I’ve always had a fondness for video games. Some of my earliest memories involve playing Donkey Kong on our Atari and, once I was old enough to read, 8-bit Jeopardy and PacMan on our Apple II. As gaming systems advanced, I found that I particularly enjoyed more physically challenging games like ‘Duck Hunt.’ I remember rushing down to my older brother’s basement bedroom so I could spend some time with his Nintendo, sharpening my “hunting” skills, or playing MegaMan 3 and Super Mario Brothers. I was never as good as my brother, or even a lot of kids my age, but that’s probably because I rarely spent much time playing. Still, when I did find a game I excelled at (like Duck Hunt), it was a great confidence booster for this scrawny little girl. Later, when this not-so-scrawny-or-little-anymore girl went to college, I went through a brief phase where I was so addicted to MineSweeper, I would see numbers, flags, and bombs on the tiles of the shower wall. Now that I’m all grown up I still don’t have a lot of time for games, but one thing hasn’t changed — my preference for physical games. Instead of Duck Hunt, now I’ll play Dance Dance Revolution, Kinect Sports, DJ Hero, or any variety of karoake games on our Xbox. Chris, on the other hand, is drawn to racing games and the occasional first person shooter, but he’s usually a good sport and plays along when I’m in the mood for one of my games.