In the 70’s there was Pong. It was different than the other games in the arcade because you did not have only the machine to beat, but you could beat an actual human opponent in real time sitting in front of you across the small table with the monitor as a table top. It was also a video game, one of the first ever. You could take turns with your human opponent in Ms. Pac-Man, to see who scored highest, or with Asteroids or Space Invaders. But in those, you were dependent on your skills against the machine, while in Pong, at least you had the illusion of your skills vs. your opponent’s being the factor that determined the winner. I say the illusion because in the end, the computer was in charge, and your simulated “spin” on the ball was just that, simulated.

SimCity, a game in which there was no describable way to “win”, became really popular a decade or so later. I remember learning about it in PC Magazine back in the day. It was a platform to let people play urban developer, and let their minds wander and create. People were free to design and control a simulated urban environment, individually. It became a runaway success. More recently, if you look at today’s Minecraft (which has been around for a long while already), it plays off the same idea. People create worlds, and they imagine and build phenomenal structures and complete life experiences inside of them. Animal Crossing is another example of this type of game, in which rules and constraints are few, and players can roam free. A new generation has grown up with these games in which winning is measured more by what you can create than by who you can beat. They have become the new entrepreneurs, or maybe historically they always were.

Our View from the Top – October 1st, 2019