A new channel has popped up on YouTube. It’s called Video Game Stars and it is put together by Emmy Award-winning producer TJ Allard. The channel produces one minute long videos about the history of video games and computing. These short videos are called “Gametoids” which is a play on the word Factoids. A new episode will be uploaded every Tuesday and as of today, April 5th, 2017, there are two videos. Check them out then subscribe to the channel so you’ll be alerted when a new video arrives.
The first is about the person who brought the first video game into space and of course the game!
I never professed to be a master of video games. Living with my brother Hesh, he was giving me daily whompings on every game on every system we owned. This changed the day I discovered Tetris. We all know the game, its been ported to a hundred platforms and mimicked in many ways.
I feel confident (not cocky) enough to declare that I POWN this game. I just have a knack for it, and have displayed it to many people (worldwide on Tetris online system) and amongst people and friends who have challenged me.
I do have a fave story though….
In the fall of 1998 I attended the University of Saskatchewan (why out there, whole other story). Nice campus, but the best thing was they had a full swinging arcade! Sorry dad, I spent a whack of tuition on those games:)
One day they are changing the machines up and I notice when they move one of the newer machines, my god, there is an old Tetris machine sitting in the corner that I have never noticed before. I rocked this machine every spare minute I could, but as I filled every placement in the hi-scores column with “DAL” (my initials), there was one dude I could never beat, the infamous “TOS” who always held the hi-score #1 slot .
Time passed and my anger grew each time I came close to getting “DAL” in the top position. One day I decided that I would attend my nightly Sociology class that I chose never to go to (just read the book, got a 90%, sociology is a joke) and decided to drop a few quarters into the Tetris machine.
As I sauntered into the arcade, Mountain dew in hand, and silver quarters sweaty in the other, I see this old Asian gentleman, like really old, like maybe 75-80 at least, and HE’S ROCKING OUT THE TETRIS MACHINE!. This dude had skills like I had never seen.
I’m impressed but also am angry that I have to wait to play, then he turns to me and points at the second player handle and in some broken English says something to the effect, “Want to play?”.
I do, desperately, and accept his offer. I felt like the karate kid, tetrinome on, tetrinome off. We played a game so long that I missed the first half of my class, so I decided to admit defeat before i missed the second half. Its hi-score labelling time. He kicked the stuffing out of me by at least 50-75 lines, it was a long time ago now, so its hard to remember exaclty, but it was brutal.
The one thing I did remember thought were the initials he put in…..”TOS”. I damn near shot Mountain Dew out of my nose, it was him! The hi-score #1 slot holder! It wasn’t some young savy comp geek, an arcade eagle, a quarter slot quareterback, it was this old Asian fellow who hardly spoke English.
I shook his hand and said I was finally glad to meet him, and I pointed out the “DAL” on the score screen and he realized that it was me all over the list. We couldn’t have much of a convo due to the language barrier, but we both had a good laugh. He said his name was “Toshi” hence the “TOS” but I’ll never forget what he said to me as he was leaving, that was the clincher:
“You stick to Donkey Kong boy!” he smiled, and walked away.
What happens when Mario gets stuck fending off a constant falling cascade of tetrominoes? Well according to Hermesgildo, it ain’t pretty. I would not have enjoyed being around when Mario lost that hand, but I am not surprised that he soldiers on afterwards. Nothing stops Mario!
My friends…can you hear that? That keening wail of nigh infinite despair? It is the sound of a soul being shattered into tiny pieces and stacked like the shapes in the classic game, Tetris. Most of you will remember my painful encounter with this title at a video game competition in my youth…but I will say this documentary that is scheduled to debut in 2012 looks incredibly interesting.