Video Game Preservation Week – Computer Games

I was a PC gamer for a long time.  I got an NES in 1992, a PC in 1994, and then a Playstation 2 in 2005.  That’s eleven years of primarily playing games on PC.  Other than the Civilization series, I switched back to consoles for two reasons.  First, PC games require incessant, often expensive, hardware upgrades.  Second, other than a handful of RPG’s and strategy games, the gaming experience in almost all genres is now better on consoles than on PC’s.

The hardware issues with PC games has always been with us, but the second factor – gaming experience – wasn’t always so clear cut.  Until recently PC games were always a generation ahead of their console brethren.  When there was NES, PC’s had 16 bit games.  During the SNES/Genesis wars, PC’s were up to 32 and 64 bits.  Really until the PS3/XBox 360/Wii era, PC’s were always one generation ahead.

Let’s review some of the more important computer games:

1. Oregon Trail

Once in a while someone may have had an Atari at home, but we were always envious of the copies of Oregon Trail in the school computer lab.  When most video games were of the classic arcade style (Space Invaders, Missile Command, etc.), here was a strategy game where we could make dozens of choices and be creative.  Never has dysentery been so hilarious.

2. Civilization and Civilization II

The Civ series is the most successful turn-based strategy series of all time.  The scope of these games is no less than the entire written history of humankind.  Civilization was a great game, but Civilization II was the most advanced one for its time.  Just one more turn…

3. Wing Commander II

Space sims, and flight sims in general, have gone out of fashion.  Wing Commander II, however, was more than a space sim in that it was the first video game to take its story seriously.  It set the bar for the three interactive movie sequels, and every game that we have today with any cutscenes whatsoever.

4. Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake

The first person shooter genre, complete with online multiplayer, was being developed on PC when consoles still relied on platform games.  Wolfenstein brought us the concept, Doom expanded it to include multiplayer, and Quake arguably set the standard for every first person shooter that came after it.

5. World of Warcraft

No discussion of computer games would be complete without a mention of World of Warcraft.  It wasn’t the first MMORPG, but it was by far the most successful.  At a time when console hardware had finally caught up to computers, World of Warcraft demonstrated that there was still a place for computer games, mainly RPG and strategy games.

What are some of your favorite PC games?

(c) 2014 D.G. McCabe