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Dragster (Atari VCS, Jul 1980, Activision)

Mezrabad

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Old people: "Play new games but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold"

 

It's me. I'm Old people.

 

There's a game we play our entire lives called "Explore vs. Exploit". When seeking to entertain ourselves we are faced with the decision to Explore something new that we might enjoy, or to Exploit something we already know we enjoy. This idea is talked about more broadly in a book called "Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions" by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. If you haven't already read it, I do strongly recommend it.

 

I know this sounds crazy, (we prefer the term "mental disorder", btw, thanks.), but I always struggle with deciding on what to play and I've literally wasted entire weekends on this indecision. Having every game available to me from 1972 to around 1995 has not helped me at all when trying to figure out what exactly to play when I'm trying to catch up on what I missed when I wasn't paying attention.

 

Dragster (Atari VCS, Jul 1980, Activision)

 

I never really understood this game back in the 80s. I don't think I ever owned a copy and the concept behind it (efficient gear-shifting for maximum speed over a limited distance) was outside of my experience. I do blame this for never having learned to drive a stick-shift until I was in my early 20s.

 

You can play Dragster over and over and over and afterwards find you've only been playing it for about 10 minutes. If you don't have any idea of how you shift gears in a car with a stick-shift then it can be quite frustrating, at first. My first few times I simply blew the engine out and my vehicle didn't even move until I re-read the manual and realized I was trying to shift incorrectly.

 

It's a fun game for what it is. Learning how to quickly engage a learned sequence of actions while perfecting the timing can tickle a challenge urge in us that we sometimes find it interesting to indulge. (I never beat 6.33 seconds. I will never be worthy enough for a patch. So be it.) The second game on the cart adds the challenge of steering. I found that additional challenge interesting but it didn't quite engage me after all the time I'd spent grinding my gears on the first game.

 

If you decide to try it, I do recommend reading the manual as well as being aware that you can reset the game after an attempt by pushing the joystick to the right. It's better than leaning forward to hit the reset button a couple dozen times.

 

That takes us out of July 1980 for the Atari VCS. We've covered a bunch of the other 1980 games already (some were 1981 games that we covered pre-maturely, oh well) but all we have left in this year (for the Atari) is December's Video Checkers (Atari) and Skiing (Activision). I still haven't even gotten to the Fairchild Channel F or the Odyssey^2 games, yet. This seems like a long year, because it's taken me 13 years to get through it, but it's not even half as long as 1982 is. Hopefully I'll get back into the rhythm.

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On 4/5/2021 at 2:27 AM, sut said:

Hey, glad you’re back !

Hi! Good to see you, too! and for a moment I forgot how to quote a comment to respond to it. xD

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