EL PASO — Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start; if you know what this code means than you’ve been playing video games since at least 1985 when Nintendo first hit the market. The Konami Code, often referred to as the original cheat-code which gave you 30 lives on Contra has a special meaning to anyone who played video games since that time. In popular culture it is the code that binds all the original gamers who were around since the Atari 2600 in 1977. Through the years, these gamers have seen the rise of the gaming evolution evolve into amazing new heights.
Gone now are the days when Mario saved the Princess from the clutches of the evil Bowser, aka King Koopa, on a simple 8 bit video game console. Today the video gaming industry has not only grown technologically, gamers have continued to grow in age along with it, and that’s actually a good thing.
Lupe Alejandro, 32, still enjoys playing video games. “Watching movies is the same thing over and over again. I like gaming because it’s something different to do. When I play online, it’s never the same thing twice.” Alejandro has owned most of the popular consoles since the Nintendo. He considers himself a “techie” and has grown up with gaming all his life.
Video games aren’t just for little kids anymore. The technology has allowed gamers to do a lot more than just play games. It’s bridging the technological gap between two generations. Those familiar with the Konami Code are the same people who had to explain to their parents how to program a VCR to record a TV show. They basically had nothing in common technologically with their parents. Now parents and children alike are finding ways to bond through video games. It’s nothing to be ashamed of to be nearly 40 years old now and enjoying playing video games along with your kids. Remember when Bart Simpson was beating up on Homer in a boxing game?
Take for example the Playstation 3 console. Apart from being just a gaming console, it is also the highest rated Blu-ray player on the market. You get a gaming console as well as a high definition Blu-ray player in one bundle, reducing the number of electronic components already on your shelf. The PS3 utilizes full 1080p resolution, which looks amazing when you’re blasting Helghast enemies on Killzone 2 or watching WALL-E in higher definition than you did at the movie theater. If you have an internet connection, you can hook your PS3 up to the Playstation Network where you play games online against other people, buy and download movies, game demos and TV shows. Similarly, the XBOX 360 has many of the same features, without the Blu-ray. It links to your existing Netflix account so you can instantly watch hundreds of movies.
Jorge Najera, a student at Eastwood High School says, “I own both a Playstation 3 and an XBOX 360. I like watching movies more on my Playstation because of the Blu-ray player, but I play more games online on my XBOX because the games I like to play online are on XBOX.”
With the arrival of the XBOX 360 and the Playstation 3, gaming has gone further than simply what you see on the television. Since then online playing has skyrocketed and has become a staple of popular culture. If you have a MySpace page you can embed a link to your XBOX Live gamer profile. People can click on that link and see what games you’ve been playing, how many achievements you’ve earned, as well as whether or not you’re online at the moment playing a game. Games like Halo 3 and Gears of War have web pages where gamers can go online and view their ranks and match scores as well as view videos and pictures of game play. They are forums set up where gamers can talk about the games themselves and what improvements they’d like to see in a forthcoming sequel.
One of the most popular activities gamers are engaging in is attaching a video capture device to their televisions and game consoles and digitally recording their game play. They then post those videos on YouTube where other gamers can watch them, make comments and even post video replies to them. Many gamers make montages of their best head-shots, number of people they’ve shot and killed as well as tips and tricks to play certain games.
Some bold and brazen gamers will also modify their XBOX 360 in order to play burned games which are downloaded from the internet. Similar to pirating music, this practice, albeit illegal, has shown the extent that gamers will go to play their favorite games, sometimes before the games are even released nationwide such as with Gears of War 2. Another form of modification is with game controllers. You can find rapid-fire kits on Ebay for as little as $15 dollars. Controllers are opened up with a Torx security screwdriver, chips are adhered onto the circuit board and with a few holes drilled and some wire soldering, you can have a modified controller with rapid fire capabilities. If you own a Playstation Portable, you can have it modified with custom firmware which allows you to install emulators. Emulators are programs that emulate software from old consoles such as Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, or Gameboy Advance. You can then add “ROMs” which are game files downloaded from the Internet such as Super Mario Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog. Although performing some of these “mods” could get you banned when you play online, there’s ways of having it done without the risk of having to buy a new console.
If you think gaming is only for men and boys, think again. XBOX Live GamerchiX hosts events for women from any range in any skill level. In fact it is a very important online community for women who are into gaming, but don’t want to deal with any of the negativity that comes from trash-talking, gun-wielding, hate-mongering bad boys out there. Girls play with only other girls in a very positive empowering environment.
The fact that the new gaming consoles out on the market allow you to do more than just play games is one of the reasons why thirty-somethings are out there purchasing them. The old idea of staying home and watching movies is being replaced by a more interactive experience of playing video games online with other people. The age range of those people varies anywhere from around 5 to about 40 years old and since they don’t look like they’re going to quit anytime soon, that range is getting wider every year.
Online gaming has been around for a while but only really became widely popular with the sixth generation of consoles that included the Playstation 2 and original XBOX. The growth of broadband internet access throughout developed nations was the catalyst that popularized online gaming. All you needed was to run an Ethernet cable to your console and you were set.
If you owned an Atari when you were a kid at the height of its popularity, you’re probably in or around your 30’s and if you have kids, you know that one of their favorite activities is playing video games as well. So there’s a pretty good chance that you own or have owned a Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Playstation, or XBOX. Today, a game console has become a staple in the American family’s home entertainment hub.