Lessons from Old vs. New Video Games
It’s time for a fun blog post (those ACA things get tiring after a while). If you’ve read some of my stuff before, you know I’m into video games, and I’ve been that way for a long time. My first video game console was the Sears version of the in-television system also known by the hip 80s name of “Super Video Arcade”. After that, I graduated to my first PC, the Commodore 64, the Commodore 128 and pretty much stuck to PCs after that. And not too long ago, I got an X-Box, and I now have my own customized, home-built gaming PC.
Over the years with all the new technology has come more sophisticated software, better controllers (I remember when a computer mouse was an optional thing that people thought wouldn't be useful) and, of course, more polished and refined games. Gone are the days of single-player, text-based adventure games. These have been replaced with online role playing games with tens of thousands of people logged in simultaneously interacting in vast, photo-realistic worlds.
Simple arcade racing games with blocky graphics have been replaced by race car simulators that obey real physics, have life-like graphics and allow you to race in real-world locations. Hand-held joysticks have given way to 3D virtual reality controllers. The changes have been fun to watch and the capabilities now are truly amazing, but I’ve been noticing something else lately. While games are faster, look better and can do things never done before, it can very easily lose track of the main point – to have fun.
Now, part of this is observation may be due to me growing up and having a child – I’m not the kid anymore (dang it). Part of it seems to be software developers are more focused on doing everything they can possibly do, but they’re losing track of what they’re doing. I’ve gone on YouTube and watched videos of the old games I used to play, and it dawned on me – the developers of that era had far fewer computer resources to work with, yet ended up with games that left me a lot more satisfied. They focused on the core and left everything else behind. In the end, there may have been things they could have done, but that may require shipping another floppy disk or may be taking more than the 64 kilobytes of RAM available. They sacrificed that to make the game better and lived by the “less is more” principle.
It’s a challenge we face in our day-to-day, and there's a life lesson in this. As our organizations grow, it’s important to not lose track of the core. What's the purpose of our business? Do employees know and appreciate it? The advances in technology cannot be ignored in order to remain competitive, yet it needs to be balanced. We have to find that sweet spot between the joystick days and 3D virtual reality.
Since I’m in the “middle-age” phase of life, this is one of those things that older people are going to give me the told-you-so look and younger people are probably saying “whatever” – but for me, right now, it’s something to be more mindful of and focus attention on.
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