Atari Games

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We were assigned to play old Atari game the space invader this week. Unfortunately, I stuck by technical issues that I cannot move and shoot in the game. I played the space invader online. The rules of the game are simple: move right and left to evade the attack and shoot invaders to protect our home, which lets me played for several turns in half an hour. Even though the low pixel of the image and poor graphics, I did not get bored. The game not only reminds me of my childhood time but also intrigues my eagerness to get the high score.

The game evokes the memory of my computer science class in primary school. After teacher addressed the material, he will let us play games for the last 10 minutes of class. I did not play Atari games, but the mechanics and images of the game are similar with the Atari’s. Playing games and comparing scores with friends is one of the unforgettable moments in my childhood.

As we discuss in the class about the difference between games and novels, I think the real games are those created in the late 80s’ and 90s’ such as the Atari games. In earlier of this semester, we were asked to play gone home, the Dear Ether and her story. I played each of these games more than one hour for just one turn, figuring out the purpose of the game and completing the task in the game, which is time-consuming and brain-burning. The advanced games I just mentioned provide me perfect graphics, complex mechanics, and explicit narration. Playing the games allow me to put myself in character’s shoe and start a new journey. I classify the characteristic of the game to novels because authors aim to make the reader feel empathy with the character in the book. I always need some rest after reading novels, which happens when I play those games. Oppositely, Atari’s games can make me relax because of the simplicity of the rules. In space invader, moving left, right and shooting are the only things I need worried about. I don’t need to glean information from narrative and consider the next step decisions in Atari’s games.

Atari Games: Back to the past

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Screenshot from Space Invaders

Throughout the course, we have played several modern video games that have high quality of graphics and stories. But, this time, we played more “classical” games using Atari Emulator. With the emulator, I played some old school games, including Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Pac-Man and Space Invaders are simple games that do not require much thinking, compared to the previous games we played, such as Dear Esther and Gone Home. They do not have any stories to build nor require any logic to continue the games. Some might argue that Atari games are too simple, because modern videogames is more complicated with better audio, stories and graphics. Especially, thinking of the cave from “Dear Esther”, the graphics are incomparable. However, we all have to admit that those Atari games have been the foundations of our modern video games. Without Atari games, our modern games would not have been what they are now.

There are levels of stages that ask users to defeat each stage. The way to defeat the stages varies among stages; however, in principle, whether consciously or unconsciously, users identify the patterns of each stage and defeat it. I believe all humans have tendency to find patterns when we are in unfamiliar circumstance. When we confront new environment, we need a period of time for adjustment. I believe that adjusting period is the time to look for pattern of new lifestyle and get familiar with it. Developers have applied this common human psychology into the videogames. So, once users find a pattern for a stage, the game leads them to a higher-level stage with new pattern that is harder to find what than the previous level. In my opinion, this simple and one-dimensional game is more addictive than the modern games that we had played in this course. It does not require much logical thinking as the modern games do. All people can freely enjoy the game.

The nostalgia behind ATARI games.

Space Invaders, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Star Raiders, Pacman, Battle Pong are my childhood. These Atari games are the reason I started to show any interest in gaming. However, when I was a kid, I only played these games when I was with my friends and had nothing else to do. For some reason, during my childhood, console/video gaming wasn’t something that could be done for long periods of time. I still remember the time when my mom didn’t let me use my Nintendo GameCube for more than 30 minutes a day.

Space Invaders

During class, we discussed many of these games. The games that I had played were: Space Invaders and Pacman. First I played Space Invaders and after 10 minutes of doing so, I realised how simple the game is, and lost all interest in playing it. All I had to do was move left or right and shoot the space invaders who were also shooting at me. I still remember how Space Invaders had so much more meaning to it when I played it as a child because at the time, gaming was meant to be simplistic and games were based on patterns that could be memorised by players after playing the game a few times.
As I played Pacman, I realised that even though the game was as simplistic as Space Invaders, it wasn’t as easy to beat. That’s probably because Pacman doesn’t have that pattern that players can just memorise.

As I played these games, I thought of what I was gaining out of them. I realised that these games are the pioneers of what is now an interactive gaming industry. The Atari games serve as the foundation of today’s games. They created games that had so many meanings associated behind them that people started seeing their life as a game and their goals as the tasks.

Sports and Space Invaders

This week I had the wonderful opportunity to explore some of my favorite arcade games I grew up playing at a local joint near my family’s vacation spot. With the help of Stella I was able to get reacquainted with Pac-man, Frogger and other iconic Atari games, including Space Invaders.

As you might guess Space Invaders is about invaders, from space. This game is one of the very first shooter games and the object is to destroy the aliens, it’s similar to Galaga–a personal favorite of mine. Here’s the thing, and I know I am not the only one who has heard this growing up, most adults warn younger people (especially kids and teenagers) away from video games. Their reasoning normally has something to do with video games being “useless,” “unproductive,” or “bad for brain development.” To this I say WRONG! ALL OF THEM ARE WRONG! I am not saying that it’s ok to spend 14 plus hours a day playing video games but they are, by no means, detrimental to anyone’s ‘development.’ In fact, as a varsity athlete, I find the older-style video games to be extremely helpful–games like Space Invaders in particular. Why? It’s all about strategy.

The whole objective of space invaders is to move around and shoot stuff so the educational value isn’t blatantly obvious to most people at first. However these games teach an extremely important skill: pattern recognition. Space Invaders comes down to can you find the pattern, play enough to recognize it and learn how to beat it, and then can you adapt your skills to identify and conquer the pattern of the next level. These are systematically generated patterns that also teach persistence to a certain degree using the element of positive reinforcement. When you learn the pattern you’re rewarded, if you can’t figure it out you keep trying until you do because, let’s be real, everyone loves to see their name on the leaderboard.

The greatest thing about the skill of pattern recognition is that people use it all the time in everyday life. Where I find this skill to be most useful is in sports. I play softball, this means that I have to identify and decode the pattern of pitches that are being throw by the opponent’s pitcher. Once I identify the pattern, I can predict with a relatively high degree of accuracy which pitch comes next and which one I should swing at. The faster I can identify the pattern, the more successful I will be at hitting. Space Invaders also makes me a better catcher because I need to know what patterns to use against the other batters by analyzing their tendencies individually. Kind of like the different levels in Space Invaders, each batter acts differently so by figuring out their pattern or batting rhythm I know what pattern of pitches to throw to prevent them from having a productive at bat.

This pattern recognition skill isn’t just found in softball and baseball, it’s found in chess, cards, and other situations that involve analysis and critical thinking of an external entity. Look for, example, at debate: Each person constructs an argument, the person with the better argument construction and presentation of facts wins. So if you are able to figure out what the person’s pattern of argument construction is you can unravel their argument pretty quickly. So the next time you kick butt at chess or cards or debate, or catch the game winning strike, you may want to give a quick nod to our good ol’ friend Space Invaders.

space-invaders-game_62147502273Image Credit: vecteezy

Atari Games and Candy Crush

This week for class we were asked to play old Atari games and then we discussed them thoroughly during class on Thursday. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any of the Atari games to work on my computer so I was unable to play. I have played many of these games before though such as Pac Man, Frogger and Space Invaders. Even though these games don’t have as much substance as some of the other games we have played during the semester, there is really plenty to analyze about them. While looking at the graphics and mechanics of these games on my computer they seem fairly simple and boring. During class we discussed whether this simplicity is what makes these games so addicting to some people.

At first I couldn’t understand why anyone would have trouble stepping away from one of these games, that was until Professor Morgen brought up Candy Crush by King. I am an avid Candy Crush player and I have been for years. I am currently on level 347 on my phone (yes, I know its impressive). Candy Crush is a very simplistic game about patterns similar to these Atari games. It was then that I realized what makes these games so addictive is figuring out that winning pattern and being able to recreate it over and over till you know it perfectly. I constantly have trouble stopping playing the same level in candy crush over and over again until I can beat it (or I run out of lives). The Atari games will always be popular because of their simplistic, addictive characteristics and for the feelings of nostalgia that they incite within many older gamers.

Simplicity & Memories-Donkey Kong and Space Invaders

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 4.25.34 PMStella emulator is a very useful platform that provides me the chances to play Atari games on my laptop. Atari games are old games, which were invented 10 or even more years ago. They do not have fancy decorations, complicated plots or various characters. For example, In Donkey Kong, the only thing I need to do is to help Jumpman to save her girlfriend Pauline from the Donkey Kong. How? I simply just used the ‘up’, ‘down’, ‘left’ and ‘right’ to start from the bottom and climb to the top while avoiding the rollers that the Donkey Kong keep throwing at me. In this game, I do not need to consider the plot or analyse the characters to figure out what I am supposed to do next to kill the game. Compare to Donkey Kong, the games we have played so far are almost complicated: GONE HOME and Her Story both require me to pay full attention to finish the game. Even though I enjoy thinking throughout these games, I feel that I am doing an assignment to reach a certain goal through my efforts instead of playing a video game for fun. The format and the design of Donkey Kong and Space Invaders make me relaxed when I was playing. Thus, this is one reason that I like Atari games: simplicity.

Mario_Bros._GameplayIn addition to simplicity, nostalgia also intrigues my interest in these two games. When I
opened Donkey Kong and press ‘space’, the game starts with a sound of ‘past’: a familiar sound back to my childhood. As I proceeded and died because of the rollers, another familiar sound appeared. I suddenly reminded myself of “Mario Bros”, which I played a lot with my friends in elementary school and brought me happiness after school. Then I researched Mario Bros and surprisingly found that it and Donkey Kong are both Atari games and the Jumpman in Donkey Kong is actually Mario. What a coincidence! Because Space Invaders is not compatible with my laptop, I can only play it online. Even though the online game has higher image quality, it still brought me of a sense of past and childhood. Similar to Donkey Kong, Space Invaders is also a game I played a lot in middle school and remind of lots of memories, even though I did not know its name is space invaders at that time. I really enjoy Atari games I played this week: they brought me to my childhood again.

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Atari Games: Instilling Nostalgia

Even after all the advancements in graphics, “realness”, and technology in the realm of gaming, there is still something truly endearing about the games of the past. Growing up, Nintendo games such as Pokemon on the Game Boy, or arcade games from Atari such as Pac-Man, were quintessential to my childhood. I remember spending hours on end in the space world of Galaga, or the obstacle-ridden map of Donkey Kong, or the Mario-esque progressions of Frogger. For me, Atari games have a special place in the gaming lore, maybe not for its innate meaning per say, but definitely for the role it played as an original game. When I think of a video or arcade game, the first thing that will always come to my mind is sitting around the Nintendo 64 or Atari console as a child at after school, playing so many times the game became an art form that I had the upmost expertise in.

Games like Galaga, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man are classic Atari games that, upon first inspection, may not seem to have any particular essence or meaning. But, games like these still require a certain form of perfection. Someone who plays the game once or twice definitely won’t have the expertise of someone who has played hundreds or even thousands of times. For many players, there is a healthy form of competition, almost like a sport. It takes practice of mechanics and understanding of game knowledge to efficiently progress through levels of Atari games and become better. Some of these skills are transferable, much like if you know how to play a clarinet you can pick up the saxophone easier. Some skills are not transferable: surviving in Pac-Man is a different form of pattern identification than shooting aliens in Space Invaders. There is always room to improve and become more proficient at a game, and because this improvement is so easily quantifiable (i.e your high score) and comparable, it adds to the competitive drive each player has.

While critics may argue these games fail to provide any meaning or merit to the minds of young children, I argue that these games help define a modern childhood, much like cracker jacks or card games. Atari games were not made to be intrinsically deep in meaning or substance. They were meant for the original purpose of a video game, which I argue is a beautifully casual and fun endeavor that leaves an impression. No matter how advanced, complicated, or “deep” video games may become, there will always be a lasting impact left behind by old school games from the Atari console or Nintendo Entertainment System. What this lasting impact may be is debatable, but for me I can always embrace the nostalgia or holding the Nintendo controller or the Atari console joystick as I blasted aliens or caught Pokemon with my friends.


Space Invaders is the quintessential arcade game – the score counter, flashing colors, the increasing, pulsating tempo of the ominous alien invaders approaching your ship. The main objective of this game is simple: destroy rows of strange foreign creatures while dodging their deadly projectiles and using the defensive barriers provided to your advantage. Like many of its contemporaries, the game is accessible to learn yet difficult to truly master.

Space Invaders is somewhat nostalgic to me. Playing the Game Boy Color version with my brother along with Pokemon, Tetris, and other cult hits signified my very first explorations with the medium. It’s simple yet addictive nature kept me hooked for hours on end. The Stella version is slightly disappointing since the pulsating beat of the invaders is surprisingly absent, but it is still very much of the same experience nonetheless.

atari arcade games

This week we downloaded Stella which allowed us to play old Atari (arcade) games. I decided to play some of the classics like PacMan, Frogger, and Space Invaders.

When I played Space Invaders, I had some technical difficulties. I couldn’t even figure out how to start the game so I desperately began clicking every button on my computer hoping something would work. Finally, I was able to control and shoot around in the game. I knew from previous knowledge that my goal in the game was to defend Earth, but when I was playing, I did not feel like there was a goal other than to shoot and dodge stuff.

Space Invaders” by

Although I wasn’t able to fully appreciate it, I did enjoy playing the different Atari games because previously, I had only played modern versions. The graphics were pretty poor and, for some of the games, I couldn’t even see where my character was. The games were also very slow and, at first, that really frustrated me. But after a while, I came to appreciate the slow pace because it felt like life had slowed down and I was a kid again.

Stella + Space Invaders = Old School Cool

I’ve never played on an Atari. The first gaming system I was introduced to was the Super Nintendo and when I compare the two, it’s clear how 13 years can make a big difference in gaming. Everything about Atari games (specifically the one we had to play, Space Invaders) seems inferior to my childhood Super Nintendo games: the pixelated art, the use of less than five colors, the confusion on how to start the game and the game mechanics.

Screenshot from Space Invaders

Yet it brought a sense of nostalgia I never thought I had in me (perhaps from the programming I did in high school). The simplicity of the game was rather refreshing and easy on the eyes compared to our modern-day games filled with guns and the minuscule details of cliffs (probably why I really like games with minimalist art). But what really captivated me was the sound of your shooting. The pew pew sounds remind me of the stereotypical sound of shooting you often hear in cartoons or arcade games. And honestly, not being able to shoot every time you slam the spacebar made me really focused and absorbed in the game because every bullet you shoot matters; you can’t just spam the spacebar and win that way.

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