kottke.org posts about Asteroids

Might as well face it, you're addicted to gamesApr 05 2012

Judging from the sheer number of you who sent in this link, it might be the kottke.orgest link in the history of the internet. In it, Sam Anderson goes long for the NY Times Magazine on casual games (like Angry Birds, Tetris, Bejeweled, etc.).

In 2009, 25 years after the invention of Tetris, a nearly bankrupt Finnish company called Rovio hit upon a similarly perfect fusion of game and device: Angry Birds. The game involves launching peevish birds at green pigs hiding inside flimsy structures. Its basic mechanism - using your index finger to pull back a slingshot, over and over and over and over and over and over and over - was the perfect use of the new technology of the touch screen: simple enough to lure a suddenly immense new market of casual gamers, satisfying enough to hook them.

Within months, Angry Birds became the most popular game on the iPhone, then spread across every other available platform. Today it has been downloaded, in its various forms, more than 700 million times. It has also inspired a disturbingly robust merchandising empire: films, T-shirts, novelty slippers, even plans for Angry Birds "activity parks" featuring play equipment for kids. For months, a sign outside my local auto-repair shop promised, "Free Angry Birds pen with service." The game's latest iteration, Angry Birds Space, appeared a couple weeks ago with a promotional push from Wal-Mart, T-Mobile, National Geographic Books, MTV and NASA. (There was an announcement on the International Space Station.) Angry Birds, it seems, is our Tetris: the string of digital prayer beads that our entire culture can twiddle in moments of rapture or anxiety - economic, political or existential.

But the real lily gilder here is that you can play Asteroids right on the article page...you can shoot almost everything off the page aside from the article itself -- ads, comments, navigation, etc. This in-article game is based on this JavaScript hack that will let you play Asteroids on any old web page. Pretty cool. (thx, everyone)

Play Asteroids on any web pageSep 29 2010

This bookmarklet will let you play Asteroids on any web page...the enemies are the images, text, and videos on the page. You can click here to play right now on this very page. (Arrows to move, spacebar to fire, the score is in the lower right corner.) It's pretty satisfying to blow the kottke.org front page to bits. Someone should make a multiplayer version so that everyone currently visiting a page can all play together. (thx, cary)

Asteroids record brokenApr 12 2010

The current record for Asteroids is 41,336,440. It was set back in 1982, making it the longest-held record in video gaming.

[Fifteen-year-old Scott] Safran, who had been practicing nonstop at the game for the previous two years, agreed to play a marathon session of Atari's popular outer-space shooting game as part of a charity event in Pennsylvania. His mother drove him to the event and lent him a quarter, which he dropped into the machine Nov. 13.

Why has the record held so long? Because Safran's game took three continuous days to play with minimal breaks. Now, a new unofficial record has been set by John McAllister; he played 58 straight hours and beat Safran's record by just over 2,000 points. Oh and those minimal breaks I mentioned:

When he needed a bathroom break, he stepped away from the machine and shed a few lives until his return. It got a little scary towards the end, because he started to run alarmingly short on extra lives as a result of his final bathroom break. He recovered well shortly thereafter, but not without giving all of us onlookers quite the scare first.

For reference, the contest in Hands on a Hard Body lasted 77 hours.

Tags related to Asteroids:
video games

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