The Future is Now

Early Tuesday morning blog, becasue I was sick again yesterday.  I swear, sometimes it feels never-ending.  Fortunately, I have an appointment with my surgeon coming up, which will hopefully provide some answers.  In the meantime, let’s talk about anything else.

Once, my dad told me a little story.  He said that when they were building the nearby onramp to the thruway here in South Buffalo, he would imagine it as a sort of rocket shoot for the make-believe flying car that he dreamt of as a child.  My father has long held onto this flying car dream, fully believing he should have received such technology by now as this is, after all, “the future.”

I have written before about when I first played Pong on my dad’s television set in his bedroom when I was four.  It was life-changing, sparking my love of the video game in all its manifestations. I mean, I have a favorite game on nearly ever console, and dozens of computer games I still adore.  For me, video games were a sign that the future was progressing.  One thing that always intrigued me, however, was virtual reality.  Ever since I saw my first hologram back in kindergarten and thought “wow, that’s neat,” the things we can do with technology and vision have always amazed me.  I remember watching videos of the “virtual reality” headsets from the 90s’ and such…they weren’t what I thought they would be.  Which is probably why they pretty much failed.

But this weekend, L brought over his VR headset for the PlayStation. 

Mark put it on, and I could see what he saw on the screen, but it just looked like another video game to me.  He was absolutely giddy as he played, pointing out all the little details he saw.  Again…it was just broadcast on the screen for us, so it wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be, I guess.  At least, that’s what I thought at first, until L convinced me to give it a try.

I wanted to, but I was nervous because I know it can cause motion sickness, which I am prone to.  Still, I put on the headset and L put the controllers in my hands and showed me what buttons to push.  At first, on the loading screen, it just looked like a tv screen that only I could see.  Then, the game loaded.

It was The Walking Dead, which I know little about, like he fact that there’s zombies.  But it didn’t matter.  It didn’t matter what game it was, because all of a sudden, I was IN THE GAME.

I looked down, and I had boots on.  My hands were not my own, and held a baseball bat.  I was wearing someone else’s clothing.

I looked up.  Blue sky and birds and sunlight and it was so realistic I would have sworn I was outside, not standing in the middle of my living room.  I looked around.  I could see individual blades of grass. I could see fireflies.  I could see stones and dirt on the ground.  I spun in a circle, tying myself up in the cord, but trying to get a full 360 view.  And I did, and it was glorious.

I played a little…did a target practice, walked around.  I was less interested in learning the game right then than I was at marveling at the details around me.  I truly saw nothing that wasn’t in the game…there was no glitch, no blank space, nothing.  It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

That might seem silly, but up until now the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen was the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile up close…now that’s silly.  (I suppose my goddaughters’ birth should be up on that list, too…sorry, D.)

I finished playing and was grateful I had no motion sickness, and then Mark and I immediately changed our plans from saving for a PS5 to saving for VR. 

You know what I want more than anything, though?  Not even to play it again, but to have my dad play it.  To have him put on that headset and look around and think “Holy crap!” just like I did.  We may not have flying cars yet, but we do have some kick-ass tech that would knock his socks off.  So, while we wait for an auto that can soar though the air, why not play some video games?

Great days in Mark’s life: birth of children, wedding day, this.

Growing Up Gamer

Our PlayStation is broken.  This has caused deep grief for my husband and minor annoyance for me.  It hasn’t affected our streaming capabilities, but you can’t play discs, so Mark and I have both been having Call of Duty withdrawal.  Next week we will send it to be fixed, which will really suck since then we will be stuck with the thirteen channels of crap Spectrum calls “basic cable.”

I am thinking back to my first experience with a video game.  I am maybe four years old, and my father shows me Pong.  I was immediately amazed by this newfangled technology and would have played all day everyday if it weren’t such a pain to hook up to the television.

My first introduction to video games came from my father, who also instilled a love of computer games in me. (To this day I play the original Doom to relax.)  However, I did not have my own console until I was twelve, so most of my video game experiences came through friends. When I was six or so, my friend Stacy got a Nintendo, and I begged my parents for one for several consecutive Christmas mornings.  I was complete garbage at Super Mario Bros, but did not care.  I tried fiercely to master those jumps and grab those coins.  Kevin had several systems over the years, which was cool because through him I got to play all sorts of games.  Eventually Sega comes along, with what was then considered to be amazing graphics, especially the handheld in comparison to the Gameboy, so I was then hooked on Sonic.  When my parents finally answered my Christmas wishes and gave me Kevin’s old Sega (he was getting a PlayStation that year,) I was ecstatic.

Another Christmas morning came where my parents got me and my sister a PlayStation 2, which is where I really started playing games.  I remember spending 24 straight hours at Kevin’s house trying to beat Burnout Revenge, and that was just a regular weekend.  I never really had the money to keep up with the technology and am kind of glad that I live a generation or two behind in most areas.  Our PS4 is the newest device, and when I watch the kids play games on it I think back to being young and playing games with my friends.  They are so different now, that it makes me wonder if it’s doing more harm then good.  I mean, this ain’t your father’s Pong, man.

But to hide some of this is futile, because kids still learn about games through their friends, as it has been since the beginning of time.  Once I admonished Mark for playing a game I deemed too inappropriate for M, who was in the room.  When I said this, M proceeded to tell me the entire plot of the game because he had already played it at a friend’s house.  I can’t control what they see at their friends, I can only remind them, as we often do, that video games are not reality, no matter how realistic they seem.  It’s a little strange that we have to do that.  Can you, my fellow Millennial, imagine your parents reminding you that turtle people aren’t really trying to kill the little Italian plumbers?

While we get the PlayStation fixed I will likely be doing a lot of reading, writing, and other introspective things, which will be lovely.  Then when it returns, I will likely be doing a lot of shooting at things, which will also be delightful.  I’m a lady with many tastes.