Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Fine Consollection

History is always in our hands, and everything we touch instantly becomes part of our cultural memory – often shared. In times gone by, people collected coins, dolls … train numbers – and some still do.

These days, new inventions become normal and standard in a generation. There are kids now who’ve never heard of The Beatles, and can’t conceptualise the world without the Internet. They’ve created their own history, a world of hardware and software being constantly refined, reduced in size, expanded in capacity.

Consollection is a history of the (video) games console: from Apple’s Pippin Atmark (not one of their greatest hits), Atari’s game-changing (at that time) VCS 260 through to the Sony Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. If you’re between 5 and 40 years old, you’re going to remember one of these consoles as your first. They have at times hit right in Lovemark territory – they’re very sensual, intimate devices. They’ve become designed to better mould to your hand, and allowed your imagination to take flight on screen.

More buttons were added, controls became more complex, and then were slowly taken away, and we’re moving today to a future where our bodies do the interacting; where we are the console.

These now historic items, collectable physically or in cultural memory, have always been supported by advances in software; bringing the Streetfighter & Grand Theft Auto series to life, just as they did with early games like Pacman, Space Invaders and Donkey Kong. Going right back you might remember the earliest Tennis games (two blocks and a moving square ball going from side to side!)

As the console becomes the body, I think going online will be more intimate than ever before. With the right parameters, we’ll be able to go deeper into experiences and integrate them into our body’s physical memories too. What a development.

Future generations will look back on our manual control systems with a mixture of amusement and nostalgia. Somewhere, there’ll be collections with coins, stamps, and computer game consoles.

Technology works when we embrace it fully. We can’t hide under a rock, we’ve evolved. We can use digital experience for our analogue pleasure. And now The Beatles are on Rock Band, digital can reintroduce us to our glorious past.