Multimedia

In Photos: Harvard’s 373rd Commencement Exercises

News

Rabbi Zarchi Confronted Maria Ressa, Walked Off Stage Over Her Harvard Commencement Speech

News

Former Harvard President Bacow, Maria Ressa to Receive Honorary Degrees at Commencement

News

‘A’ Game: How Harvard Recruits its Student-Athletes

News

Interim Harvard President Alan Garber Takes the Political Battle to Washington

Nostalgic Video Games: Vignettes by The Crimson’s Arts Board

As a board comprised mostly of Gen Zers, The Crimson’s Arts Board reflects on the games that consumed their childhoods.
As a board comprised mostly of Gen Zers, The Crimson’s Arts Board reflects on the games that consumed their childhoods. By Xinyi (Christine) Zhang

As a board comprised mostly of Gen Zers, The Crimson’s Arts Board reflects on the games that consumed their childhoods. In many ways, the hours spent on these apps, websites, and consoles were not wasted — they now serve as memories to be cherished.

Pokémon Nintendo DS Video Games Galore

With two younger siblings very close to my age, we were inseparable from our respective Nintendo DSes in our youth — and the game that was always inserted into our devices was one of the many Pokémon Nintendo DS video games. Beginning with Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, likely due to our clashing personalities, my siblings and I all chose different starter Pokémons: I claimed Cyndaquil, the fire type; my brother went for Totodile, the water type; and my sister opted for Chikorita, the grass type. We constantly battled it out to see who could beat all 16 gym leaders the quickest, and during our free time, we would scour YouTube and forums to learn the secrets to catching as many legendary Pokémons as possible.

Although my generation now criticizes Gen Alpha’s “iPad kids,” my siblings and I may have been more screen-obsessed — glued to our DS screens not only in restaurants but also while exploring new places on vacation. Over time, as we explored the various other versions of the Pokémon Nintendo DS video games that existed, we amassed an impressive collection of game cartridges, a testament to our enduring passion for the series. While the DS has long since become outdated, the allure of Pokémon video games continues to persist — every so often, I find myself quietly opening the Pokémon Go app on my phone to relive the excitement and joy of the game.

—Staff writer Allison S. Park can be reached at allison.park@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @allisonskypark.

Doodle Jump and Cut the Rope: Remnants of Days Past

In the age of streaming services and algorithms, the idea of an omnipresent cultural phenomenon can seem obsolete. When was the last time there was a truly universal piece of media that crossed generational, racial, and cultural divides? What comes to mind is not a single shared gaming experience but the omnipresence of free-to-download iPhone games during the early 2010s.

In the era before in-game death was accompanied by a 60-second unskippable advertisement and free games became a farm for inescapable microtransactions, there were a brief few years when society united around our shared hours lost to Doodle Jump and Cut the Rope. It was a blissful period where the sounds filling middle school hallways weren’t TikTok audios but rhythmic “boop” noises as players climbed ever higher toward a new Doodle Jump record. Instead of political vitriol, family group chats were filled with updates on who had taken over the Candy Crush leaderboard. But perhaps the rose-colored glasses of time have clouded our memories of this treasured shared pastime. After all, for every Doodle Jump fostering new friendships, there was a Flappy Bird tearing both relationships and phone screens apart.

—Staff writer Jen A. Hughes can be reached at jen.hughes@thecrimson.com.

Temple Run and a Taste of Home

As far as phone games go, the epic escape game Temple Run is by far the best. With its technical topographic marvels and complicated escape routes, it serves as the blueprint for every mobile running game. However, unlike those of other phone games, its evolved iterations only enhance the game’s appeal. From the classic sequel Temple Run 2 — my personal favorite — to more niche iterations like Temple Run: Brave and Temple Run: Oz, the game always maintains and even improves upon its original concept — stealing an idol from a monster and escaping — with richer visuals, more player options, and more interesting hurdles.

For years, I’ve spent hours on my phone diligently swiping up and down and tilting back and forth — dodging rocks, craters and falling idols. There is a moment in every game where the obstacles speed up and concentration must increase: That tapped-in space feels like childhood. Moments in the backseat of my mother’s car swiping away on her phone as she drove me home from school, suddenly come into focus. Even when I am miles away in my dorm room, when I play Temple Run, I think of home.

—Staff writer Avery Britt can be reached at avery.britt@thecrimson.com.

Dreaming in Restaurant City Layouts

As I looked through floor plans in the dreaded rising junior housing lottery, I thought back to my days spent playing Playfish’s Restaurant City, poring over restaurant layouts on my mother’s overheating MacBook. My restaurant was my pride and joy — it had magical decorations, themed sections, and a restaurant score that placed me on the game’s leaderboard. I would trade ingredients with my friends to make kooky dishes, and we would do virtual restaurant tours while on the phone. Apart from these memories, Restaurant City also gave me a platform to realize my artistic dreams that I didn’t even know I had: I was obsessed with choosing the furniture, the decor, and the dishes, and optimizing the customer walk-through pathways. And, for the longest time after, I wanted to be an interior designer. While Restaurant City was retired by Playfish in 2012 — and I’m a little older now — I still think back to my restaurant as I arrange my bed and desk to make the most out of my tiny dorm room.

—Staff writer Sean Wang Zi-Ming can be reached at sean.wangzi-ming@thecrimson.com.

Stardew Valley: The Makings of a Madwoman

My friend convinced me to download Stardew Valley on the App Store by advertising it as the best $4.99 that she had ever spent. I’m not a big video game player — the closest I’ve gotten was bowling on Wii Sports whenever I visited my friend’s house — so the beginning of Stardew Valley was slow going. Rochelle — my in-game character — took a while to figure out how to use the fishing rod and how to collect berries, but once she did, I was hooked. According to my iPhone’s screen time — which rocketed up by 70% the week I downloaded the app — I had spent over 40 hours in Stardew Valley the week after I downloaded the app. My mother asked me if I was talking to someone because I kept giggling at my phone whenever I presented a gift to one of the prospective singles residing in the valley. At some point I forgot that I, unlike Rochelle, could walk in curved lines and would keep walking into telephone poles before making a 90-degree turn. That’s when I decided it was time to delete the game before I began standing at the gutter outside my house, making reeling motions with my hands.

—Staff writer Angelina X. Ng can be reached at angelinang@college.harvard.edu.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags
ArtsCulture