Scholars define history as "things and stuff happening and then time passes so we remember it". Makes sense to a thinking man, I suppose, but what do those lofty words mean for you and I?
The history of video games has been forged by a series of near-misses, coincidences, and remarkable moments. Today we ask: What if slightly different circumstances had altered the course of events in the video game industry?
What if the Atari Lynx had outsold Nintendo's Game Boy?
Short Term Impact: Their nose bloodied, Nintendo abandons the handheld market. Color LCD displays and 16-system networking become a standard for portable gaming platforms. Warbirds and Malibu Bikini Volleyball become franchises with yearly installments. Ross Perot becomes president.
Long Term Impact: Nintendo eventually returns with an answer to the Lynx 7. Their device is a cup and ball, attached by a length of string. It becomes the highest-selling handheld system of all time.
What if the video game crash of 1983 hadn't happened?
Short Term Impact: Millions of people who would have otherwise died of starvation remain employed. Wandering around dusty country roads does not become a pastime, nor does standing in lines in cities while wearing bowler hats and fedoras.
Long Term Impact: Over thirteen thousand developers exist in 2010, cranking out millions of games per year. On average each game would sell two copies, and would somehow make a tremendous profit.
What if Spore had been the open-ended creative life simulation sandbox that most people assumed it would be?
Short Term Impact: Just as many copies are sold, disproving the notion that a game has to be simplified to appeal to a wide audience. Will Wright is encouraged to make clever titles based on unrestricted interaction with defined, constant systems rather than simplistic mini-games.
Long Term Impact: Content, I never buy another game for the rest of my life.
What if the Sega 32x hadn't been such a tremendous failure?
Short Term Impact: The Earth is struck by a thirty million ton meteor, ending all life as we know it.
Long Term Impact: In 2000, production of the Dreamcast is stopped due to rampant piracy and the release of the PS2.
What if the industry hadn't fixated on motion controls, 3D, social networking integration and retailer-exclusive bonuses?
Short Term Impact: A better end-user experience leading to more sales over a longer period and a healthier industry for all involved.
Long Term Impact: Peace on Earth, the discovery of technology that makes immortality a reality and feeds the world's population without a single negative impact. The discovery of Jimmy Hoffa's bodyguard, who - as it turns out - has been wandering alone and scared in a busy shopping mall since becoming separated from Hoffa in 1975.
What if the Super Nintendo version of Mortal Kombat had featured blood instead of "sweat"?
Short Term Impact: Children across the world bleed profusely for absolutely no reason. The world's scientists devise a way to head off total disaster by rewiring humans to sweat blood, but bleed sweat.
Long Term Impact: Vampires become even more hated when their curses adjust to this trend, requiring them to feed on totally gross sweat.
The Sims 3: Ambitions
If, like me, you wondered why the base game didn't let you follow your Sim to work, the money you'll probably pay for this expansion should clear things up. 7/10
Record Of Agarest War
Not enough anime boob to make it full-on shameful porn, not enough strategy to put up with the anime boob box on your shelf. 6/10
With a laser-like focus on gameplay and a fun art style that complements (and enhances) the action in every way rather than doing the bare minimum with the same quasi-realism that plagues modern games, this is the most engaging and best looking PS3 title to date. 9/10
All the gratuitous bone-crunching of Death By Degrees, almost as much excitement as an Arena Football video game. 3/10
We're spelunking through the movie catacombs this week. Join us, won't you?
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