One of the projects my daughter and I are working on in multimedia technology involves putting small pieces together to form a whole.

In my case, it’s original illustrations, film clips and sound bites, with the finished product highlighting the amenities offered in Community Park.

The point, of course, is learning how to use a bunch of new software, but now that I have, I kind of wish I’d taken a different approach.

When I expressed the sentiment to my instructor, he asked what I would have chosen to do.

Much to my surprise, I couldn’t give him a definitive answer, but I thought immediately of the ambitious class projects led by Coach John Long at Collins Middle School. One year, his students created a chronicle of the Civil War, and their most recent effort traced the U.S. space program.

Both included film clips, still pictures, original drawings, a student-written script, narration and a heck of a lot of research.

So after reviewing my own lame answer, I began to give the question a little more thought.

John Wayne came to mind. Well, he would be an interesting character to study, but I’m not really what you’d call a die-hard fan — westerns never have had much appeal.

I do like antiques but know nothing about them, and I don’t really collect anything in particular.

So it was daughter Julie’s idea that hit the mark — a history of computer games.

Now, there’s a subject I could wrap my mind around!

Are you old enough to remember how impressed we were with “Pong?” When you hooked the box up to your TV, a white line appeared vertically down the center of a black screen, representing an aerial view of a ping pong table. Then there was a “paddle” at each side of the screen which the player could move up or down, and a white spot was the ping pong ball.

Yet, kids were fascinated with this technological breakthrough, Board games were never the same, and neither were TV sets — if the game was left on too long, the ghost of “Pong” haunted the screen forevermore.

Then over time, PCs of one sort or another caught on, and the game industry began to flourish. The first adventure game I ever bought and played was “Ballyhoo,” but it was a text game. That’s right, there was no picture on the screen and no sound — there were nothing but words, and the rest was up to the player’s imagination.

When I got my first PC — I’d had Commodore computers up until then — I was able to buy a game that actually did contain graphics. I don’t remember the name of it right off hand, but the character explored an old mansion looking for clues.

Comparing the graphics in that game to what we have now is like comparing a crayon stick figure to one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces. I remember being impressed, though, because I’d never seen much in the way of computer graphics before.

OK, so the evolution of computer games from “Pong” to “Doom” is hardly a subject of Earth-shaking historical significance.

Yet, when a student wants to take something they’ve learned to a higher level just for the fun of it, maybe there’s something worthwhile in the concept after all.


Joan Sherrouse is a Daily Sun staff writer. Her column appears Thursdays. She may be reached via e-mail at

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