Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Milestones : Galaxian (not Galaga)

Space Invaders didn't do that much for me. Yes, it was cool and new, but like Pong, after a few games I was done with it for the most part. Maybe it was because it was black and white, maybe because the invaders were in nice neat rows, and maybe because they could end your life just by reaching the bottom of the screen.

It wasn't until my neighborhood bowling alley got Galaxian that I was hooked. The full color invaders, the bright screen with an actual starfield, and the dive-bombing of the aliens seemed to do the trick. My friends and I became regulars there for awhile, spending our weeks' worth of lunch money by Monday afternoon.

Galaxian took the spark of videogaming interest in me and expanded it into a flame. From then on, videogames became my primary hobby and pasttime. That time, those few weeks playing Galaxian at that bowling alley, opened the door to the great, Golden Age of Videogaming that went from 1980 through 1984. Every week it seemed that new games were arriving in my local arcade, or somewhere else in town, and I would always check them out.

Looking back, it seemed that I was already, in those early days, seeking out something - some play experience that was new and different. Galaxian wasn't just fun and challenging - it was just enough of a leap ahead of Space Invaders that it fired up my imagination about what future games might bring.

On a side note, whenever I mention Galaxian to someone they mention Galaga, which came later. I always have to explain to them this whole story. Yes, Galaga was a better game, but by the time it came out I had moved on to other game ideas and concepts. I never really got into Galaga, and it gets tiresome to always hear "Don't you mean Galaga?". I wish they would have named Galaga something different.

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