Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Art of Video Games

You know you're old when there's an Atari game console inside a display case at a museum.

Atari, PlayStation, SegaGenesis and other video game consoles and their games are featured in an exhibit called The Art of Video Games which is currently running (or playing?) at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum Florida International University in Miami.

Walking through the exhibit was like taking a stroll through my childhood, especially when I arrived at the Atari display.

I remember sitting in front of my little TV set in my bedroom where I would shift left and right at the edge of my twin bed as I played Pitfall!, Joust, Beserk, Keystone Cops, and ET! (For some reason, I could never get ET home in time, no matter how many times I tried to phone home.)

If I wasn't in school or bike riding in mid Miami Beach, I was home playing one of these games. I used to rush and finish all my homework in school so I could have more time to play the video games at home.

When I went to the mall with my parents on Thursdays (my dad's day off from work), I always headed to the TV/electronics section at Sears and Jordan Marsh where there was a video game set up. I played whatever was presented at the time while my family shopped.

Part of the thrill of playing was being able to make the different characters perform the way I commanded them to via the joystick. The games were akin to my own personal live action cartoons that I could direct with my every move.

The other part of the fun was excelling at something that was non-academic since I was pretty average at sports (except jump roping. Side note: I was a champion jump roper in the city of Miami Beach Parks and Recreation program at Muss Park. The Miami Herald even wrote a profile of me back then.)

But once I started high school, I gradually stopped playing video games. I don't know why. The thrill faded away. I remember wanting to ride my ten-speed bike more than playing the games. I also began to take a deep interest in all things cars, Popular Mechanics magazine, Star Trek: The Next Generation and R-rated movies on cable. So I gave my console and collection to one of my younger cousins.

But seeing the old Atari 2600 console at FIU brought back so many fond memories. I immediately began to yearn for those simple days when I was a curly-haired kid who enjoyed sitting in front of a little TV set as I laughed and played my heart out.

This is a really l-o-n-g way of saying that I wrote a story about this Art of Video Games exhibit.