19 November 2011

Flash Back 1984 - What Happened?

by Diane Carlisle

In the summer of 1984 I worked in an ice cream parlor. Times were as bad, if not a little worse than today, but as teenagers back then, we didn't worry about our futures. It wasn't beneath us to work in fast food or customer service. I served chili dogs and soft serve ice cream. I even made milkshakes in those mixers that always spun the glob of ice cream to the top, splattering milk all over the place. But I was happy to collect my $52.00 paycheck at the end of the week.

I applied for student loans and attended Coastal Carolina Community College to try and better myself so I wouldn’t have to work in the fast food business for the rest of my life. I worked late at night at my mother’s restaurant and lounge. After “last call” I had one hour of cleanup and two hours all to myself to get my homework done.

The closest thing we had to console games was a downhill skiing game produced by Activision. A stick figure would move down a snow capped mountain in a pair of skis that resembled a perpendicular equal sign which, when manipulated by the controller, would turn slightly to the left and then the right in order to simulate the side to side motion you might imagine happening when someone is actually skiing down the side of a hill.

The most entertaining part of the game was when the skier would crash into a tree or a flagpole and the equal sign turned into what looked like a 'V', made to resemble a mangled set of skis. Game developers had to be creative with what they had back then.

Still, we'd get bored and head out to the local gaming arcade. Tempest, Asteroids and Galaga were much more entertaining, had better graphics and they only cost one token. By the way, a token back then wasn't $.25. You could stay in the arcade all night if you had a couple bucks. That was our entertainment and social outlet.

So what's the difference today? The unemployment numbers come out and we gasp. Our children are coming home from college with no jobs. Yet, in America, the obesity rate is skyrocketing and our economy is crashing to an all-time low.

Credit and technology is what happened.

Want that new console game that's coming out next month? It only costs $59.95 and you'll probably beat it in less time than I spent on a Friday night with friends at the arcade. I know arcades sound lame to kids today and who needs to be part of a social group when we have Facebook and Twitter? Work at Burger King? Fuck that. Our kids eat fast food, they don’t serve it. They'll just wait around until someone offers them a desk job where they can sit around all day and surf the internet.

Reflect a little. So tell me, what were you doing in 1984?

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