Video games meant to be played, just not all at once

Posted on June 15, 2003

I thought I had finally recovered from my addiction, but it has come back

to haunt me. Luckily, I am able to handle it through indulging for short periods

of time, and it mysteriously goes away, almost as fast as

it hit me.

Yes, you guessed it. The addiction is video games. Another good way

for me to stay away from video games is to just be so freakin' busy that

I don't have

time to play. But I have to make time for Circus

Atari. I just can't stop

playing it.

Jakks Pacific has

come up with an ingenious way for old-school video gamers to continue the traditions

started back in the '80s. With the Atari


TV Games, users can play favorites like Asteroids, Centipede, Pong and

others. The joystick system comes with Audio/Video connectors that can be


into just about any TV.

I had never played Circus Atari before receiving

this game system as a gift for being a groomsman in a friend's wedding.

We tested it after


rehearsal dinner, and no one even cracked 500 points. Now, my high score

is up to 8,651,

and I'm still mesmerized by the clowns (stick men) jumping from a see-saw

(slanted line) and hitting balloons (squares). Another friend who received

the gift is on an Asteroids kick.

He's still fairly

far away from unseating the World

Asteroids Champion, whose top score

stands at over 41 million points.

My Atari received a lot of play when I was

younger. I liked to play Burgertime and Empire

Strikes Back, although there

were always two AT-ATs on the

board, no matter how fast you shot them down. One time my brother was

making history

on Frogger.

He was on the 22nd board, with 15 extra frogs, when my sister got him

in trouble. Can you believe my mom


ignoring the fact that he could have been famous?

The next logical step

was the Nintendo, in which my brother and I had many memorable battles in

RBI Baseball, Double

Dribble, Tecmo

Bowl and Ice

Hockey. But we still managed to team together in Super

Mario Brothers,


Tales and Contra.

Kids these days want more than games with washed out

graphics. Now, you can compete against more players than your brother; you

can compete


anyone on the Internet! Everquest, Diablo and

PlanetSide pit

contestants, or groups of contestants, against others in lifelike

battles. These games

are so real, and so ingrained in the psyche of those playing them, that


are known

to buy and sell items obtained within the game on e-bay. I'm not

even sure where to begin in explaining that you can bid

on Diablo charms, pay

for them

then use them in a game. It's not as if you can pull them out of

the computer and make a necklace.

While gaming could be seen as

addicting, a

recent study has shown young adults who play video games

on a regular basis have sharper

visual skills

than those

who do not. The research, performed at the University of Rochester,

showed players develop enhanced visual perception, but in no

way does game playing

correlate to improved skills in reading, math, etc.

In the meantime,

there are computer games that reach people of all ages in other areas. Games

like the Myst series provide

people with


situations in which you have to think and not just be able

to shoot your way out of a scenario. Then again, many who play games


just looking



stress from their daily routine. So is it critical that potentially,

video games don't bring large chunks of nutrition into people's


If playing video games is pulling you away from being

an active member in society, or not allowing you to complete your work

or homework,

then you

might need

to alleviate some of the hours you spend at the game console.

But if playing games is just another way to lessen the tension

in your



then play on!

For now, I'm going to stick with Circus Atari,

although I noticed Jakks Pacific has also made one system that includes

Pitfall and

River Raid, and

another system,

which should be out this summer, that contains Pac-Man

and Dig Dug. My addiction looks to continue into the foreseeable


although it is only

a break from my real job as the guy who gets shot out of

a cannon at the