Posted by: markfender | March 11, 2014

The March of Progress

Many kids born after the turn of the century have no grasp of how much things have changed. They can certainly look through history text books and see the differences, but it is quite another to live through those changes. Speaking as a relatively older-person, the amount of progress that has happened in the world in the past thirty years is quite impressive. It can be quite daunting to live through these changes and see how they impact our daily lives.

Pac-manI present one example that should be easy to understand: that most venerable of all video game properties, Pac Man. Here we have the screen from the original game, released in 1980. This was a revelation when it was introduced. I remember the weird, sit-down game machines that resembled glass tables that it played on. While the graphic fidelity was lacking, the basics were there: a yellow face and some ghosts. Each is easy to tell apart from one another and you were in no danger of confusing the two. Such video game graphics were an amazing innovation at the time. From the basic blocks of Pong, we had advanced into an age where there were distinguishable characters. He even looked kind of sad when he got eaten.

pac-man-championship-edition-dx-2010Now, fast-forward thirty years and see the new version of Pac-Man. The graphical fidelity is incredible! Those walls appear to be in a full three-dimensions! Pac-Man is still the familiar circle, but he appears real, as if he were an actual yellow circle right here in the real world. The ghosts each display their own personality quirks and personal profiles. Some of them even seem to be sad.

And the controls! The original version required a joystick moved in different directions. The new version puts that onto a controller with over 16 different buttons! How can my poor addled brain keep up with such progress!

While the game itself remains similar, you can understand how some of us older people have trouble adapting to such modern-day graphics. So used to the old style are our brains that we recoil in shock from this new world. The graphics are so up-to-date they appear real to our old, tired brains and we can barely process the graphic images we are seeing. Truly, this is an age of wonder.

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