During Grade 10 I set to work on my personal project in which I explored the history and evolution of video games through creating an exhibit with a retro arcade cocktail table that I made and a custom gaming PC to show how the ideas and practices have changed. Looking back now, this project of creating the arcade from scratch was one of my proudest moments yet during the time it felt like a chore to design it, build it, and program it.
Looking back at the Personal Project, I can clearly see what I’ve grown in and things that I’ve learnt for the future. The biggest thing I realized was the importance of organization and planning things in advance of starting working on something. At first, started the project with minimal planning and expected the arcade table to come to fruition along the way. However, this became a problem when I had to collect equipment and get the larger pieces of wood cut down to a workable size. Because of this, I ended up needing to return to the hardware store multiple times for the smallest of things. A few screws one time and black paint another. This not only wasted time, but it also frustrated my parents, who had to drive me there each time.
Another thing I learnt was how to research and have a deep enough understanding to present it in my exhibition and report. Using websites like JSTOR and other databases was a unique experience for me, as I was not used to reading research papers that these websites provided. I was used to reading the first few websites presented on Google and calling that a day. This opened me up to look in different places for research, one of which was a video game museum located in Helsinki, Finland, which was very different for me as it never occurred to me that research could be information found in physical museums or other places I had to physically travel to.
The final idea that I realized was how perspectives of societies can change over time, and not just from culture to culture. Through my research, and playing on my newly created arcade, I realized that the genre of video games that were played and the rituals behind them were completely different to how I was brought up. Just before I was born, the platform genre was the major type of game on the market. Games like Super Mario Bros and Sonic The Hedgehog. Nowadays, major genres include first-person shooter games and open world games. While I was very familiar with these genres, what I learnt was the games of the 80s were more based on achieving the highest score as they had a set number of levels and were completed in a short amount of time. This complemented the social aspect of gaming that was present then, with a group of friends going after school to the local fish and chips shop that had an arcade and competing to see who was the best. Today though, most video games are played by children in their rooms with their doors closed, and while on Skype or other forms of calling application, there is no physically social aspect of gaming anymore.
While I initially created the arcade table with the intention of playing it often, that hasn’t happened. At all. I attribute this to the impracticality of the physical device, and the repetitive nature of all games compared to modern games. Despite this, if I were to do the project again I would touch nothing of the arcade, but improve the way I created it. I would’ve created a better plan, designing it prior to buying everything. Nonetheless, the lack of planning has shown me how important it is which has helped me massively during the past year. An example of this is most of my Spanish essays, where now I understand that planning what I want to express, how I want to express it, and what new words do I want to use to show my knowledge of the topic.