How we made single player games into team games on the Atari 2600
According to one commercial from Atari, if you have a tough boss to beat in a video game, all you got to do is call a very large person to take them on. It is scientifically proven that only monosyllabic giants have the hand-eye coordination necessary to play the most challenging games. This is why Andre the Giant still holds 70% of all video game World Records.
We never had a giant in my group of friends. However, we did have people we called in to take out certain parts of a specific game. This sort of communal playing of video games allowed it to be a group activity. Nothing worse than having to sit for up to an hour while your buddy broke house records on every game.
Sometimes to make it fun we would have elimination rounds on games like Pac-Man. Each of us would take a turn. You play one board and pass the joystick. If you die. You are eliminated and mocked. It was harsh, but it made us into hardened gaming veterans pretty quickly.
One of my favorite titles to do this with was Frogger. I remember one sunny afternoon, we went over to a friend’s house to play. He was by far the fanciest friend I had. His family room had sliding glass doors that opened up onto his backyard, where he had a below-ground swimming pool. It was glorious.
Do you know what was even more glorious? The 6 hours straight that we played Frogger that afternoon. Sitting in our bathing suits. The pool was visible but forgotten, we grinded away for hours laughing and getting better at the game. It was a great way to play Atari and something I miss in our current online multi-player experience paradigm.