Hello everyone. This post is going to be very personal indeed, and I must begin by apologizing for writing such a long digression from my usual subject matter. Which is not to say that I will not be discussing videogames, I will be, however I will be talking about the darker side of their presence in my life.
Space-faring game 1996/2002 both developed by Ambrosia Software
In the mornings, early before school, I used to creep downstairs and turn on my parent’s old Apple Mac. It was an ugly old thing of a 1996 vintage, a time when a nicotine shade of cream screamed of the heights of computer technology . After it had run through its five minute boot up sequence I would click through to my object—Escape Velocity. There has never been a game that has taken me away to another place so completely as Escape Velocity. It presented a world of possibility, an almost endless expanse of black space in which to project my imagination. I had no elite, I was born too late for that, and Free-Space passed me by, but Escape Velocity was there to fill the void.
I wonder sometimes if there is some special effect that space-faring games, especially those with an open structure, have on a young mind. It seems to me that that space of infinite freedom and possibility is perfectly calibrated to take an overactive imagination and have it fill those voids to the brim with adventure. In this piece I should like to tell you a little about Escape Velocity, to explore why it was so important to me and to explain why it can no longer hold my interest.