These Aren’t Your Parents Video Games

Nason Jones, Staff Writer

“It’s a me, Mario!”

Perhaps the most iconic character inside the culture of gaming is now 41 years old, but is just as nimble as ever as he is able to jump, swing, and swim his way towards Princess Peach with as much enthusiasm as ever.

He even looks better, as technology gets more advanced, especially compared to the pixilated Mario that our parents grew up loving.

Mario’s advancement illustrates just how much games have changed from when our parents were growing up until now.

Games in the 1970s included classic titles like Pong, Donkey Kong and Space Invaders. These soon became obsolete as Nintendo took the world by storm, rolling out Super Mario Bros. and Zelda. But these classics are now taking a back seat to modern games such as Halo and Super Smash Brothers.

Even though games have evolved, teenagers today find enjoyment in playing these classic titles.

Highland junior Lucy Foulks loves playing some of the classic games.

“It’s more nostalgic for me just cause I used to play them with my grandparents,” Foulks said.

Retro gaming brings back many memories for Highland’s teachers as well. Games such as Duck Hunt and Contra were some of the first games that asked gamers to shoot weapons – something that has become normal and more realistic as games have advanced. As technology has gotten better, so have the graphics and the quality of the games.

“It’s like the difference from old school CGI and modern CGI, like if you watched the old Star Wars. Early on, it looks really bad,” Highland teacher Aimee Devine said. “Then you look at the latest Marvel movie and you can’t even tell that it’s green screen.”

The games in the beginning were nowhere near as nice to play both digitally and physically. Gaming controllers were very often not very ergonomic. Users often hurt their hands after more than a couple of hours of use. And very often, they had to be connected into the console, so there was not an option of playing games from the other side of the room.

“You would sit on the floor in the most uncomfortable position trying to be 6 feet away from the TV,” Highland teacher Caleigh Oliver said. “When I was a kid, you had to hold the wire a certain way or it wouldn’t work.”

These controllers often brought a cost for the fun of playing, including pain and cramps.

“You would get a blister on your thumb; I haven’t had that forever and I game a lot more now,” Oliver said.

The big thing that teachers remember changing the gaming world were computers. The popularity of games grew with the accessibility of games. Students who now play Cool Math Games and Snake on their phones is reminiscent of students playing Oregon Trail – the difference is, students had to find a computer in the library. Students today can play anywhere.

“I played on my computer. I would play Oregon Trail on a school and home computer,” Devine said. “We used to have to take out these huge gaming blocks and when they would jam you would have to blow on them or bang them then put it back in.”

Through all the major gaming changes, gaming companies have stood strong by keeping those older games still available. Games such as Super Mario Bros. are still being played around the world on the newest Nintendo and Xbox systems, which makes it appealing to both new and old generations.

But a level of nostalgia fills the teachers and students of Highland when remembering their time with these games, and how they used to play for a good time with Mario.