Shall We Play a Game?

“I recently learned something quite interesting about video games. Many young people have developed incredible hand, eye, and brain coordination in playing these games. The air force believes these kids will be our outstanding pilots should they fly our jets.” -- Ronald Reagan

I was playing "Legends of Wrestlemania" today on the PlayStation 3 with my cousin, and as he soundly beat me, I started thinking again about how videogames have evolved over the years. I used to play Atari, Sega, Nintendo, and now I have a PS3. The games today have come such a long way from the ones I grew up with.

The "online" factor makes the new generation of games superior. The visuals are better than the pixelated shapes of yesteryear but better graphics only go so far. It's the new interactive component in all these new games that makes them above and beyond all the previous gaming systems that came before.

PlayStation3 is great because you can compete with others throughout the world -- I've played "Buzz" and "Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe" for example, with folks in England, California,Ireland. Friends in different houses, different cities, different states, can compete against each other in the comfort of their own homes.

The online component allows so much more -- you can write your own quiz questions in "Buzz" and others can play it. You can design your own environments in "LittleBigPlanet" and others can play in the world you've created. You can download new characters (like the Hoff) to slingshot in "Pain." The possibilities are endless.

Plus, new technology makes you feel more immersed in the games than in the classic games of old (which I still love, don't get me wrong). The controller for PS3 shocks and vibrates depending on the action taking place on the screen so you feel like that explosion or that punch had a real effect.

With Nintendo's Wii, obviously, you get to use your controller like a real sword or a real bat or a real racket. In the popular music games like "Guitar Hero" or "Rock Band," you get to play an instrument.

They've really started to bring gameplay to a whole new level above and beyond what's been done in the past.

Many of our soldiers grew up playing flight simulator and shooter games. These games are obviously escapist entertainment, but they have come such a long way from the days of "Pong," "Asteroids," "Missile Command," "Space Invaders," and "Pac-man." From complex, non-linear storytelling, to three-dimensional graphics, to online interactivity, video games have become an entertainment medium to be reckoned with.