From Kindergarten to Total Carnage


Session Title:

  • Short Paper Presentations

Presentation Title:

  • From Kindergarten to Total Carnage



  • As the Emperor’s daughter at the start of David Lynch’s epic “Dune” suggests, “a beginning is a very delicate time”, and this is really the position I found myself in whilst attempting to prepare for this presentation. Where, within a discussion of the issues surrounding the production and use of computer games, a theme still very much in its infancy, do you begin? Perhaps I should start from my own experience of this phenomenon as, now being one of the twentysomething generation, I feel as if my generation has really been the first to witness, in an almost chronological fashion, the birth, growth, and subsequent world domination of the computer game. From early arcade adventures with the blocky graphics of Space Invaders or Defender, identifying with the Pac Man and his ever increasing appetite for small blue pixels, or just trying to get that elusive backspin in Pong, these early games relied almost exclusively upon the strategy, quick-wittedness and sheer gameplay of the competitors, such were the limitations of the graphics hardware at the time. But, for the young adolescent, who had faithfully given up his pock et money in order to enter the virtual world of saving the Earth (again), for however brief a time, it was money well invested. Now of course, these early games can be looked back upon with a sense of quite curious nostalgia, but what is it perhaps which makes today’s computer games (to paraphrase Richard Hamilton) so different, so appealing? How is it that the ‘idea’ of the computer game works?