King Pong By Mike Marino We live online. We dwell in an electronic age.

Social Networks are as abundant a s pirhana in a South American rainforest river and SEO is the new ABC's. It infe cts our lives as pervasively as a rampant cancer, and nowhere is this more preve lant than in the kingdom of Gaming. Viking's and Battleships engage in digital c ombat slaying the enemy and sinking ships at sea, all on the battlefield of the laptop. Farmville and Pot Farm have replaced pinball machines and baseball on a summer day. The generation today is as electronic savvy as most of us were when it came to S linky's and Hula Hoops. Lincoln Logs were replaced by Pac Man, and electric toy trains were derailed by Atari and Nintendo. The concepts for the e-age didn't be gin with Apple or IBM. It began in a comic strip that debuted in Detroit newspap ers in 1931 with the first appearance of Dick Tracy. He was a trail blazer with a video wrist watch communictor, todays I-Pad. Then there was Star Trek Tech tha t took us where no programmer has been before with large interplanetary Video Co mmunication and phasers to destroy Klingon Vessels with the ease and skill of At ari's River Raid game of the 80's. The same babyboomers who attached playing cards with clothes pins to bicycle whe els to give the sound impression of a muted mutated Harley Davidson were the inn ovators of the E-Age. Steven Jobs WAS born yesterday and his legacy will live on , along with the unsung programmers who like the CIA operative, will never be kn own to the public at large but who's inventive genius envelopes our daily lives. It probably began in the Fifties with clockwork toys, such as mechanical robots that flashed, moved and made alien sounds along with space guns that lit up and made a clack, clack, clack sound. We were Commando Cody and Flash Gordon all rol led into one space age warrior in play in our neighborhood alley's and backyards . The carnival arcade with games of rifle skill blasting metal ducks and deer to win a Cupie Doll for our girlfriend or a stuffed animal to show our "sensitive side" in order to get laid by our teen dream that made us cream our jeans. We had rubber cowboys and indians, Fort Apache that could be set up as a plastic pallisade with blockhouses and could be shot apart with a fat rubberband fired from the end of a 3-foot yard stick. Bang! Your dead. Flashlight tag, the precur sor of lazer tag was a favorite on the eastside of Detroit. While the "bigger ki ds" in gangs used zip guns and chains, we brought our foe down with a couple of flashes of light powered by two D-Cell batteries. No blood, but overacted blood curdling screams told you that you had bested the enemy. We had marbles...thumb and finger shooting our best shots to accumulate more marbles, what for, we had no idea, just seemed to be the thing to do at the time. Today..we've lost our ma rbles. Along with pre-teen erections, came metal erector sets to make skeletal construc tions. Lincoln logs with interlocking pieces that were not just toys but could h ave been used as tools of the trade by phsycoanalyst's in assessing a persons sk ill levels. Chemistry sets that allowed us all to be mad scientists in our bedro om labs creating Frankenstein, and concoctions we were sure at the time would sa ve humanity and cure the common cold or just make stink bombs and other atrociti es. Pinball and pool were my games of choice. I would skip school and head to the po ol parlor that had pinball machines, along with a cigarette machine. Cigarettes and pinball and pool were the three basic food groups of our neighborhood. Pinba ll with its flashing lights and ka-chunk ka-chunk noise as the ball hit every sc oring device it could find, a heat seeking round missle fired with a spring acti on detonator. Then....TILT! Game over...damn, another quarter, gotta beat my old score. I was a mechanical gamer for years in my younger days, I was not exactly

a pinball wizard, I was not deaf, dumb or blind, but I could sure play a mean p inball, and ok, I do admit, I have the electronic version downloaded on computer so I can get my flipper fix, but it's still not the same. Pong changed and form ed the gaming habits of todays online resident. Robbie the Robot soon found his place in the nostalgia and technological landfil l, being replaced by computer games. Did it start with Pac Man? No, in fact pion eering gaming programmers set sail and a course for the digital Skull Island, wh ere they discovered a sleeping giant. A giant that would crash though barriers a nd blaze a trail into the electronic age...ladies and gentlemen, I give you KING PONG! Pong is an antique tennis sports game with highly simplistic graphics that reach ed iconic proportions, developed by Allan Alcorn of Atari.and released in 1972. It was an experimental piece at first that Atari in it's wisdom marketed to the masses and the rest in ancient technoligical history. It was a commercial arcade success and during the Christmas season of 1975 Atari released the home version exclusively through Sears Roebuck, another dinosaur of the retail age. Today it is in the Video Game Hall of Fame. It was a giant in innovation that changed th e course of commercial electronics and gaming. It was the beast searching for th e E-Version of Faye Wray and there was no stopping it's climb to the top of the highest commercial skyscraper. My parents bought one and it was a confusing configuration of wires and adaptors and switches. One could switch the game on, the tv off and then move the "paddl es" which were little more than short "blockers" that could be used to hit the " tennis ball" and if at the right angle could make the ball go to far court or st raight on like a bullet to score. It was mesmerizing. King Pong had flattened th e village. After Pong came a cornucopio of games such as Pac Man, Space Invaders and other rudimentary Rubik's Cube type game fare that fared well with a public hungry for electronics. A glut to fill the gluttony were devolped and swalled w hole by the public ready for more. Soon a generation of Junkies developed that a re getting geezed up and injected everyday. King Pong was the dope dealer handin g out free samples to the kids in the school yard in the electronic ghetto. Soon they were hooked. Need a fix, need a fix, high score, high score. King PONG was eventually brought down. It was time. The gaming programmers were in uncharted territory, electronic Lewis and Clarks on a mission of Manifest Des tiny to expand the electronic continent. Today's game graphics are impressive. E lectronic blood spills at an alarming rate, and even the military trains on comp uter games and flight simulators for actual combat. Smart bombs are the result a s we have seen in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. In Vietnam we got our collective ass kicked. Maybe if we had trained on video games for jungle warfare...well..w ho knows..besides..we had no business even being there...in effect the North Vie tnamese got the best of us..along with the French and the Japanese..Let's face i t they were the Viet PONG and won the set. PONG was in retrospect not attractive as a game. It was grey and simple, whereas todays games are brilliantly colored, fantastically realistic and to a gamer be autiful. In effect...it was, in the end, BEAUTY that killed the Beast. THE ROADHEAD CHRONICLES BOOK By Mike Marino Roadhead Book Website http://www.angelfire.com/mi2/sfroad/page1008.html Click, Cruise and Kick Asphalt! The Roadhead Chronicles Book is available worldwide at over 5,000 booksellers in cluding Barnes & Noble, Walden Books, B. Dalton, Little Professor, Target Stores and Booksense.com with 1,200 Locations in the US. (Also Canada, The United King dom, Germany, msterdam, France, New Zealand, Australia and Japan

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