Gaming in the 90's


Written by: Gareth Nelson

Part 3- Simulation Theory

One thing I remember in the old days before the market was awash with readily available graphics cards that had more power than your entire street- was the difficulty in making your PC and its games actually work. Even though it was a fun time on the whole I wont let my nostalgia completely smother the feelings of frustration PC gaming could be and sometimes still is. Many a time I would just shout Why? Into the ether when all the recommended specifications should work and I would end up staring at that familiar blue hue desktop background with no progress made at all. All the joysticks and joypads that would need calibration and you would only end up with the controls back to front. I began to see words appear in magazines and box art called "Voodoo" and "Pentium" and "megabytes" and thinking to myself why are things going...weird? 

I wanted an easier gamer life and putting trust in my faithful mouse companion in order to play the simpler point and click seemed like the perfect escape from life's complications. With my recent house move it brought back memories of the humble Simulation genre. I have touched on these types of games previously but that was more of the take over the world kind of mindset. In this chapter we wont look at the killing and obliterating form of chill-axing but the opposite where you had to build things and live in them. At least I don't have to build my new house in present day reality.

My progression from Civilisation II led me to Sim City 3000. I skipped Sim City 2000, it didn't sound futuristic enough. Having the opportunity to build a city was appealing even though it did bring about the regular frustrations of dealing with water electricity and garbage. Maybe this was a preparation for being an adult simulation. Just getting your city linked up with underwater pipes and electricity pylons was a challenge in itself. My ecological personality was being made forever uncomfortable by the size of the landfill that would inevitably fill the portion of the screen.

As 1999 drew to a close it was quite a surreal time for the world, we were entering not just the end of the decade, or a the end of the century, but the end of a millennium. This became the buzz word- millennium became a metaphor for new beginnings but to some the apocalypse. From 1998-2000 words like bugs became more common and threats of annihilation simply from a clock being wrong made one want to retreat and scale back the need to be a master of a universe. I found my way into smaller more enjoyable pick up and play simulations that allowed you to control the amount that people vomit, eat then excrete some more via a theme park in Roller-coaster Tycoon. I simply adored this game- it is still in my Steam library to this day. I would always build a train or monorail first as I love trains so help me. That's why Railroad Tycoon II was my go to game if I wanted to fail and lose as much money as possible and with Roller-coaster I got pretty good at making all the money before my rides would blow up. There is only so much experimentation you can do with a twisty turny lump of metal before it snaps. 

Before you had the power to be a god with the release of Black and White I was with an even harder concept- sports management games like Championship Manager!

Written by: Gareth Nelson