Hey guess what? I'm writing the Geek in Review for the Suicide Girls Newswire again. Instead of a weekly column, it'll be monthly, and a new column will go up on the second Wednesday of every month.
Today's column is called "... when the MCP was just a chess program."
The earliest video games didn't just encourage us to use our imaginations when we played them, they forced us to. Yar's Revenge, the best-selling original title on the Atari 2600, has simple yet entertaining gameplay, but it was supported by an extraordinarily rich backstory, turning it into one chapter in an epic struggle for cosmic justice. When I was 9, I wasn't just chipping away at the shield while I readied my Zorlon cannon; I was helping the Yar extract revenge on the Qotile for the destruction of their planet, Razak IV, as illustrated in the comic that came with the game.
When I was 10 or 11, I arranged a TV tray, a dining room chair, and a worn blanket to make a small tent in front of our 24-inch TV set. I carefully moved our Atari 400 onto the tray and plugged Star Raiders into the cartridge slot. I flipped the power on, picked up the joystick, and booted up my imagination as I sat in the command chair of my very own space ship. For the next hour, I was a member of the Atarian Starship Fleet. I was all that stood between the Zylon Empire and the destruction of humanity. Through my cockpit’s viewscreen (developed at great expense by the RCA corporation back on Earth) I blasted Zylon starships and Zylon basestars, and I would have defeated them all, if my meddling mother hadn’t made me stop and eat dinner!
When I was writing the GiR before, the powers that be at SG always made sure the newswire was SFW. As far as I know, they're still doing that, but your corporate firewall probably doesn't know or care, so consider yourself warned about reading at work.