More old stuff incoming

Jim Manley jim.manley at
Fri Dec 21 02:07:38 CST 2018

I teach 7th - 12th grade Science (all of them) and Computing at a very
rural Little Red Brick K-12 Schoolhouse beyond The Middle of Nowhere in
Montana.  Even waaaaaay out here, there are kids who just love, love, love
retro 80s games, and no, emulators will not cut it, thank you very much.
We recently received a graciously-donated SX-64 (a Commodore 64 with a
color display, keyboard, floppy disk drive, etc., integrated in a box), and
the kids stand in line waiting excitedly to run simulations (some might
incorrectly confuse them with games) and create sonic renderings (again,
some might confuse this with playing music).  The system came with a C
Power compiler, assembler, and linker, and the built-in BASIC has plenty of
capabilities to enable students to create pretty much anything they can
imagine.  I acquired a second SX-64 that, despite a somewhat wonky
keyboard, is just as popular as the first one we received.

A really well-designed and executed game will be a hit, even with chunky,
clunky graphics with only 16 colors, half of which are black, and goofy,
calliope-like music!  Text-based games based on great stories still have
rabid fans, with new audiences as each successive generation that discovers
them.  Photorealistic graphics tend to highlight flaws in 3-D models, such
as eyes that don't seem to be looking in quite the right directions to
represent focus at an appropriate point.  Our visual system craves matching
what we're currently seeing with what we recall seeing before, and even
tiny dissonances get our acute attention.

This detracts from playability by being a major distraction, even if it's
happening at a subconscious level.  Great stories transcend
much-less-than-perfect special effects, precisely because they allow the
players' imaginations to fill in the missing pieces.  The fans of retro
games want to escape the virtual reality of high-resolution graphics and
all of the gore that's typically associated with it.  The results of the
desensitization of young people through realistic-looking violence and,
frankly, pornography, are pretty clear from the suicide, mass shooting, and
sexual assault statistics and headlines.

More information about the cctech mailing list