- Games, Toys, and Hobbies
Console and Computer Gaming and How to Reduce Eye Strain with Light Bulbs
Computer gaming has come a very long way
Mixed-Up Mother Goose
If I made money from computer gaming, you could call me a professional gamer. Unfortunately I do not make money from gaming, so I guess I'd say I'm just an expert gamer. Nonetheless, in my countless hours spent gaming I have picked up some advice I can share with other people.
The Early Years
Before that, I will authenticate my expertise with some examples of how long I've been gaming. The first computer game I can remember playing was played on an Apple computer the make of which I cannot remember. The game was some sort of conglomeration of nursery rhymes (I couldn't remember the name of the game until I Googled it; will Google ever fail us? the game was called Mixed-Up Mother Goose) in which you ran around and found items for rhyme characters. Gadzooks, after Googling it (I found it by searching for "old mother goose computer game") I see it must have been around 1987-88 that I played that game.
An Interesting Introduction to Gaming
This was my introduction to gaming. My mother had a children's clothing business at the time, and after school my siblings and I would be brought to the warehouse where the clothing was made to hang out until we went home. My parents were either crazy to let us play games on the business computers, or they had exceptional foresight in allowing us access to computers so young. I'm going to go with the latter.
I played the life out of this game. In my first years of school there was a computer game we played during class that most people have probably heard of, "The Oregon Trail." The school computers were DOS machines with monitors that could only display the color green. It was really weird, and I never knew why the monitors at school displayed only green, while the monitors at home and work were black and white. I'm sure if I Googled it, I could find out.
Going from the late 80s to the early 90s was quite an adventure. In addition to the black and white computer games, there had been the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which entertained me greatly for years until 1990. Late in 1990, Nintendo released the Super NES, and blew me away with the new technology.
The Super Nintendo and RPGs
The SNES was great, and was a herald for the jRPGs (Japan Role Playing Game) that would storm the US in the future. Games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 3 (US), Super Mario RPG and many others quickly became my favorites. I would spend hours and hours playing these games, becoming immersed and just loving it.
Technology Improves: Enter the Playstation
Soon enough technology began rearing its glorious head once again, and the Sony Playstation was released in late 1995. Initially I held little desire for it, as the SNES was still rocking, but as more and more games were released for the Playstation my opinion changed. One thing ultimately caused me to "need" a Playstation, and that thing was Final Fantasy 7. I had long been hooked on the Final Fantasy series ever since my brother got me to play Final Fantasy Legend 2 for Game Boy. FF7 was at the time the pinnacle of RPGs, a crowning achievement which will never be forgotten by those who played it.
On the side of all this console gaming was a budding interest in computer gaming. The interest that began in 1987 never left me, having been strengthened in 1989 by the original Prince of Persia. In the mid-90s I came across an RTS (real-time strategy) game called Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. I played it endlessly, and nearly spontaneously combusted with excitement when the sequel came out in '95-'96.
Computers Begin to Edge Out Consoles for Me
My FPS (First Person Shooter) adventures began in '93-'94, with Wolfenstein 3D. I had to play it on friends' DOS computers, because in my home we used Macintosh computers. When it was released for Macintosh I immediately picked it up and played it religiously. After that came Doom 2 for Macintosh in '95, which perpetuated the cycle.
In 1997, Quake 2 was released. This game continued my fascination and expert playing of FPS games. I played multiplayer online, which was a crazy new thing in 1997. Rocket Arena 2 was a particularly fun mod; owning noobs and pros alike with mid-air rockets and ridiculous railgun shots, I was truly a champion.
From my experience, I'd say the 90s had the farthest leaps in gaming technology and development. In 1990 we were still playing original NES consoles, but by 1999 we had technology that made 1990 look simply ancient.
By the time the 90s were almost over, console games were being technologically surpassed by computer games. The graphics of computer games kept getting better and better, and the hardware was advancing at the same time. This was a great time for gaming, but it still wasn't mainstream.
Uber Gaming PC
The 2000s. Gaming hits the masses.
As much as the 90s were amazing in the breadth of the technological advances in gaming and gaming equipment, the 2000s have been amazing in the spread of gaming as a popular pastime. Technology has continued advancing, but the leaps are not quite the same as going from 2D sprites and pixels to massive 3D worlds; now, everything is 3D and the only advances are refinements.
LANs and Multiplayer Gaming, MMORPGs
The 2000s are when I first started going to LAN (Local Area Network) parties, where everyone brings their computer and games are played multiplayer over a LAN. Now, in 2010, LANs generally involve the internet anyway, as it has become fast enough that the difference between LAN and internet latency is relatively small depending on the servers to which you connect.
Hello Asheron's Call
In early 2000, shortly after the year 1999 had expired I was introduced to a game called Asheron's Call. I didn't know it at the time, but my gaming habits were about to be changed forever. Asheron's Call was my first MMORPG, and the game itself was one of the first 3D graphical MMORPGs along with Everquest. The game to me was simply amazing. It was also one of the first things/places that taught me how filthily treacherous people can be when there is an internet between them and you. Nonetheless, some of my fondest gaming memories are from the times I played Asheron's Call. Perhaps a hub on my journey through MMORPGs is in order.
I played Asheron's Call zealously from 2000 to 2001. Midway into 2001 I stopped playing it quite as constantly, as I was trying new MMORPGs all the time. Anarchy Online (2001), Dark Age of Camelot (2001), Final Fantasy XI (2002), Star Wars Galaxies (2003), Lineage II (2003), Asheron's Call 2 (2004), City of Heroes (2004), World of Warcraft (2004), and finally Warhammer Online (2008). Over the years I've occasionally popped back in to Asheron's Call to waste some time; the game is still alive after 10 years. The "sequel" (actually more of a prequel), Asheron's Call 2, lasted barely more than a year. A crying shame, too; the game had great potential.
One Rises from Among the Many
There is only one game that I played more than the original Asheron's Call, and that game is World of Warcraft. I played it on and off from late 2004 until mid 2008, when I began playing it "for reals" (raiding on a schedule). Roughly three years total of WoW have given me vast experience with all-nighters and eye strain. I'm currently on hiatus from playing WoW, but I played fervently throughout the Burning Crusade expansion, and then through the current expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. I completed the ultimate task of the Wrath expansion by slaying Arthas, the Lich King, and in doing so obtained the title "the Kingslayer". About a month after that I was unable to devote the insane number of hours I used to play, and so I took a hiatus and have not played in weeks. The withdrawal is manageable. ;)
How to Prevent Eye Strain with Light Bulbs
Now, on to eye strain! In my many years of gaming I've experienced unpleasant eye strain from gaming in sub-optimal lighting environments. With the right light bulbs and the right placement, you can counteract the brightness of monitors and TV screens and leave your eyes healthy.
Like I've said in my other hubs, I love 6500K color temperature daylight compact fluorescent light bulbs. I've found, in my all-night gaming sessions, that indirect light is best. Indirect lighting avoids glare on the monitor, and prevents your reflection from showing too much, which can happen when there is no ambient light at all.
Even just a fairly dim level of ambient light helps ameliorate eye strain from a bright monitor. Color temperature may be a preference, and you know mine, but you can try different color temps to find which suits you best. I don't use a dimmer switch, but it could certainly be useful in this situation.
That'll do, pig. That'll do.
Recognize that line? I don't know why, but that line from Babe has stuck with me and I expect will stick with me forever. I think of it any time something is coming to a close, like this hub.
Gaming is a pastime I can trace back throughout my entire life, even before starting kindergarten. I wonder what other pastimes people can trace back to near infancy, and if they continue on into adulthood.