Inspired by a discussion on the Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists Yahoo! Group related to the recent VCF East 9.1 event and whether certain computing platforms should or should not be present at the museum location, I decided to offer up my thoughts on the often argued issue of what exactly constitutes "vintage" when it comes to computing hardware. Of course, me being me, I'll touch on videogame and mobile hardware as well.
It has been said that there's no one right answer for what constitutes "vintage," as it's naturally a constantly expanding target due to the simple passage of time. While this is true in the absolute sense, it doesn't mean that we as a community can't create an effective dividing line, no matter how much time passes, particularly once we introduce the concept of "intrinsic value" being tied to "vintage." For instance, I think we can all pretty much agree that generic PC DOS and Windows systems past a certain vintage - say mid-1980s - are generally out, which covers nearly all of the countless PC clones that continue to get produced to this day. It's not that some of these don't meet the basic criteria necessarily, it's that there's nothing notable about these boxes that anyone and everyone, be it a company or individual, could, did, and still do put together. It's even arguable that some of the parts - particularly certain expansion cards, like for video or sound - are worth more than the sum of the box, which is pretty telling for how we should generally value them in our determination of what is "vintage" and worth preserving and appreciating. [read more]
Sony just introduced their streaming games service. Why buy a PS4 if you can stream those games to a ps3?
What about the pricing model?
Games aren't movies! Netflix works because of the subscription model and the low price. In the short term Sony may be able to squeeze some money out of old games if they use a sensible subscription model pricing. But it won't work for new games as they need to earn money and cover developing costs. On the long term they will run into issues. They will have to up the price.
Considering the amazing number of devices most of us have access to these days, including smartphones, tablets, consoles, set top boxes, and computers, I'd be curious to know how everyone goes about playing. Do you stick to a handful of devices (and if so, which ones) or do you like to sample from everything that you own? What if you're like me and also have a collection of vintage platforms to choose from as well? There's a point where you have "option paralysis," of course, where you have so many gaming options to choose from that you tend not to play much of anything. Have you reached that point?
As for me, I find my habits fluctuate greatly. One week I might be on a vintage platform kick, while another I might exclusively game on my tablet or PC, while another still I might pick a recent console. Other times I want to play multiple things on multiple systems and end up not being able to choose or be limited by real world demands on my time (or energy), despite my enthusiasm otherwise. I suspect this will get worse as the two latest consoles get released this November and interest in the previous generation of systems wanes and we have to start making decisions about what to do with these now "legacy" consoles. Of course, that's to say nothing of things like low cost Android devices and even the upcoming "Steam Box," which will add further options (and confusion) to the mix. All these choices are truly both exciting and overwhelming.
So, what's YOUR plan of action?
As an unapologetic technophile, I naturally crave the latest and greatest technology. However, somewhat stifling those cravings are the reality of the high costs of new technology, available space, and the needs of my present workflow. In other words, even though I spend a disproportionate amount of my money on technology, my purchases must still be carefully considered for a variety of reasons.
While I have a demanding day job as a Technical Writer, I'm also a professional author and journalist, which requires a certain amount of portability if I don't wish to be chained to a desk for 12 - 16 hours a day. This portability is particularly important to me as I always try to make a point of balancing my working life with my personal (especially family) life.
On Tuesday, May 21, we'll have the next Xbox announcement. Nintendo has obviously already played their hand with the Wii U, an intriguing, but possibly failed gamble on a mix of current gen technology with tablet paradigms, and Sony has shown much of what they'll be offering with the PS4, a "social" next gen console that emphasizes its access speed for everything from updates to getting to play games/demos without much, if any, delay. Interestingly, Microsoft was first out of the gate this current generation, but will be last to make their announcement thanks to positive momentum in the past few years (everywhere except Japan, of course).
In any case, the rumor mill has been quite active, obviously, with the usual mix of thoughtful and not-so-thoughtful claims. You can read all about those elsewhere, but here are my thoughts on what is and isn't likely:
I received a notification today that Google is about to shutter Reader, so in my quest for finding a replacement (I ended up with Feedly), a blog post from Rampant Coyote caught my eye. He features the new trailer for Broken Age, which I must say just doesn't impress me as much as I hoped it would. Then Jay talks about how he has plenty of unfinished adventure games on his shelf now, just as he did back in 92. Like Jay, I also tended to give up on many adventure games, only finishing LucasArts classics like Monkey Island and a few other series such as Myst, Broken Sword, Gabriel Knight, etc.
I recently read Ian Bogost's book How to do Things with Videogames and was quite impressed. There are many good essays in this book worth discussing, and hopefully once this hellish semester/winter from hell is over, I'll actually have some time to blog about them. At any rate, one in particular that I think will interest folks here is called "Habituation," which tries to complicate Bushnell's argument that a great game is easy to learn, but hard to master.
According to Bogost, this maxim is misunderstood. Most people assume that this maxim applies to the game mechanics or rules being easy to master, but what it really refers to is conceptual familiarity. The reason Pong succeeded where the earlier Computer Space did not is that most people are already familiar with ping pong, so they brought a lot to the table, so to speak. By contrast, Computer Space was based on the game Spacewar!, which only a tiny fraction of people had played, and no one was familiar with the zero-G dogfight.
|Greetings once more to all my fellow Armchair Arcadians! Yet again, I've found my blogging schedule horribly delayed by "Life, The Universe, and Everything". If I weren't such a chipper and optimistic guy, I'd begin to think that it was some kind of Secret Illuminati Conspiracy, trying to derail the "Great Things" I want to accomplish in my life. Sadly, it's nothing so dramatic or interesting. I know all too well what the real causes are:|
Occasionally, I like to go off topic here at Armchair Arcade and use this valuable platform to discuss other subjects. In this case, I'd like to discuss a video a Facebook friend of mine posted, or, more correctly, reshared, which you can see here, and which I've also embedded at the end of this blog post. It's a popular video on Facebook (and apparently, elsewhere), with close to 80,000 likes, 466,000 shares, and 465 comments as I write this. The titles is, "This video will CHANGE your life." A lofty and tantalizing statement, certainly, but the question is, will it?
I've been quiet on the blog front of late as I've been focused on writing three new books for 2013 (and hopefully do what I can to help get the documentary out as well). However, with the latest NPD figures for videogame consoles being dissected across the Web-o-sphere, and Sony likely firing the next salvo for next generation platforms with their upcoming PlayStation-centric announcement (and Microsoft to follow soon thereafter), I thought this would a good time to break my silence and chime in with my perspective on the current videogame-centric happenings.
First off, it's clearly not looking good for pure videogame stuff with three lackluster hardware launches in a row: 3DS, Vita, and Wii U. The 3DS recovered sufficiently with a dramatic price cut that was very much against Nintendo's previous corporate policies that discouraged losing money on hardware, which allowed it enough time to hold out for the software situation to pick up. While it will never reach the sales heights of the blockbuster DS, considering how much competition both direct and indirect there is now versus then, it should still end up selling quite well when it has run through its complete lifecycle.