Point and Click, Point and Click

The other day I was a little aggravated by someone who declared that not only are point and click games awful; they're also ruining video games. I'm old, so I've seen pretty much the entire historical development of video games, from text based Star Trek games to Pong and Asteroids, to Donkey Kong (mostly played by me on a military base in the early eighties) to home consoles, etc, etc. When they first became ubiquitous as arcade games I was irked because I was really, really good at pinball and suddenly the pinball games were vanishing and being replaced by these upstarts. Upstarts that you couldn't influence with your hips, walking that fine line between bouncing the ball into the hole and tilting the machine.

So maybe I could understand why this person was upset about point and click games changing the landscape of gaming, except for the fact that these types of games have been around for many years, well before the rise of MMOs. And in fact there have been wildly popular point and click MMOs, or MMORPGs including Ragnorak online in the past and presumably more will come around in the future.

I think what is going on here is the perennial attempt by some gamers to segregate different types of games, with them playing real games and everyone else playing “casual games.” Some of these people seem to take the success of games like Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, and recently, Flappy Bird personally, feeling that these games somehow take away from the “real gamer” experience. (I'm reminded of someone at a game store in the mid nineties who dismissed all role playing games as “You walk around and talk to people and then you walk around and get stuff.” How boring!)

Cameronwt wrote in to say, “Point and click adventure games are an iconic part of video game history. They started a trend of high quality puzzle games that were stimulating and challenging that are still held in high regard to this day. Current day point and click games are like any other genre, with some being standouts, but the spirit of the games are still strong, and anyone could pick up and enjoy them.”

My favorite old point and click game is probably Maniac Mansion and its successor Day of the Tentacle. Is there anyone who played it who wasn't a little tempted to put the hamster in the microwave? Right now I am playing a couple of games from Fire Maple, The Lost City and Secret of Grisly Manor, both on the Kindle Fire. I finished Mosaika a month or so ago and liked it enough to get others made by the same company. They are intriguing enough to keep me playing but not so compelling that I can't put them down in five minutes, which is about all the game time I can squeeze in at one time. I find them very soothing although I have heard from people who find them maddening because they find the clues are too obscure. I especially like the Lost City as the character who gets me going on the quest is a woman, unlike most of the other games like this I have played. She reminds me a fair amount of Amelia Earhart. If you're playing any of these games let me know how you like them.

In other gaming news Elder Scrolls Online has released beta keys good until the second. Did you get yours? More info here: http://www.elderscrollsonline.com/en/news/post/2014/02/27/beta-streams-t...

Possible conflict – my middle son is working on this game so I do have a vested interest in its success.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is a recommendation for Sue Alcock's class called Archeology’s Dirty Little Secrets. Taught in conjunction with Brown University and Coursera, so far this free class has been fun and interesting. The title initially put me off but the actual content is terrific. It just started on the 24th so you have time to catch up. The course syllabus is below. https://www.coursera.org/course/secrets

Course Syllabus
Unit #1: Just what are these secrets anyway?
Unit #2: What has survived for us to find? And what have we lost?
Unit #3: So how do you find things? Archaeology ≠ just digging
Unit #4: How do you get a date? (And why are dates so important?)
Unit #5: What do you do with what you find?
Unit #6: What is involved in the archaeology of people?
Unit #7: Where does archaeology happen? Who can play?
Unit #8: Who owns the past?