An Alternate Reality in Gaming

Posted on 20 March 2010 by @strategy_guide

Atari 2600

Atari 2600

Ahh yes, The Atari 2600. How many hours did I spend playing games on this console. Thinking about these old games, I remembered how challenging it was to complete some of the simple games (for those that had an end lol). The reason: No pause button or save feature. You had to have finger foods & drinks at the ready, and an extra large capacity bladder.

Then if for whatever reason you had to leave the area in front of the console, the "Move your feet, loose your seat" rule applied, and caused many fights, second only to the dork friend hitting the reset button as a joke. And heavens forbid the power plug came loose.

Now imagine a past in which a pause button did exist on the 2600 console, or a present day in which no one had thought of adding one. How different the gaming industry would have turned out if you couldn't save your games..

Old games like Beamrider or (Ms.)PacMan would pose almost no challenge as they were. Instead I imagine that the Ghosts would probably move faster and would shoot projectile plasma goo, and possibly float through walls.  PacMan would have to fashion a sheild of sorts, and collect the pellets to keep it in repair. Then he would need some sort of weapon to banish the ghosts to their quarters from afar . . . this is starting to sound more like ghostbusters.

Powering off the console would not be final - You made it to level 34, but you are tired, and your left thumb is hurting, and the index finger on your right hand is chaffed. Time for bed. You hit the save button, and continue killing the undying ghosts the next day.

Modern games such as Halo or Civilization would be impossible to complete. I don't even think I need to explain a scenario in this instant.

OK ok ok, so you have built up your empire in Civ 4, and are ready to take on the Roman empire. Your troops are positioned for invasion, and . . . you have just been ordered downstairs for dinner. If only there were a pause button (we are assuming that you are playing real time and not turn based), or a way that you could save your game. Nope. You couldn't bear to admit defeat and turn off the machine.  But after a 15 minute shouting match with your mom, you leave the room and glance over your shoulder only to see the Romans have added your capitol to their empire. Mom's just don't understand. One day you would have a place of your own, and could play games all day with no one controlling when to eat, sleep, or move your bowels. . .

Thankfully, gaming has progressed in a natural way; the desires and wishes of gamers past have and will continue to pave the upgrades of future releases. We will never give up our conveniences. And who knows what will come next.

Update 6/25: Apparently AtariAge.com has an Atari 2600 Pause Kit that you buy for $20 plus shipping - Take that 80's!

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