A Talking Purple Car, Nostalgia, and the Ever-changing Ways of New Media

When I think back to the times I spent on the computer while growing up, there are many memories that come to mind. I still remember signing up for Disney’s Virtual Magic Kingdom, trying to beat my words per minute score on Mavis Beacon and messing around with the various artistic options available on Microsoft Paint. I even remember the days when dial-up Internet access was actually a thing. My first memory, however, takes me back to the day I got one of my first video games.

Putt-Putt_Joins_the_Circus_2000_Game_CoverSource: http://www.voiceacting.wikia.com, Google Images

Until this moment, I had never even bothered paying attention to the family computer in my basement. As far as I was concerned, it was just a giant, grey block that my dad would occasionally use. It was not until my parents had bought the game, Putt-Putt Joins the Circus, that I experienced one of my first and most important moments involving new media.

Looking back, the game just seems kind of ridiculous now. It focuses on a talking purple convertible named Putt-Putt as he joins the circus in order to help some circus members with their show. The graphics have aged and the story is completely childish; yet, I cannot help but look back at Putt-Putt with fond memories even if I can recognize that the game is no longer as amazing as I once thought it was.

As a kid who had never even touched a computer before, this game was a completely new experience that I did not even know was possible. I had such a good time that I played the game virtually non-stop until I finished it (which took me quite awhile).

As I think about the various memories I have had with the computer and Internet, it is astonishing to think of how far we have progressed. The pace at which technology continues to upgrade and change is just remarkable to behold. While I do not view this progression as something bad, I cannot help but feel just a little bit of nostalgia based on my early Internet experiences.

computerSource: http://www.advantagepcrtp.com, Google Images

While I would not want to go back to using dial-up Internet or give up my current laptop for the clunky computers of the past, I can still look back at these moments with fond memories. By remembering these memories, I am able to have an even greater appreciation for the technological advances that we have today.

It is a constant reminder that as time moves forward, we are forced to adapt to the ever-changing forms of communication. Lisa Gitelman and Geoffrey Pingree claim in their essay, “What’s New About New Media?” that:

“… new media can be viewed as an endeavor to improve on human capabilities … Media are designed to fit the human, the way telephone handsets or headsets literally fit from ear to mouth, but also the way telephone circuits, satellites, and antennas fit among their potential consumers, as integral parts of communication/information networks that literally shape what communication entails for individuals in the modern age. And if media fit humans, humans adjust themselves in various ways to fit media, knowingly and not.”

I could not agree more with this statement. I think it is evident when looking back at our first memories with the computer or Internet (compared to where we are at today), just how true our adaptation skills really are.

After looking back at my first experience, one of my questions would be: Have you experienced a sense of nostalgia when looking back at some of your early computer memories and if so, does that nostalgia provide some sort of acknowledgement/appreciation towards the technology we have today?

 

By William Tolan

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3 comments

  1. I definetly am nostalgic about the days when the internet and computers felt new and exciting to me. Those clunky slow computers used to seem so fun and offer so many possibilities. I almost feel as though I appreciated new media more when I was younger. Today we take the internet and all the new media we have for granted. Nothing shocks and amazes us anymore. We expect new developments and the most advanced technology. I remember thinking that Microsoft Paint was coolest thing I had ever seen. It could entertain me for hours. I think this is partially due to just growing up and seeing the world differently, but it also has to do with the constant stream of new media forms our generation has been accustomed to. There is always something better out there

  2. Computer nostalgia swept over me with great force while reading all these different blog posts, but most importantly Putt-Putt saves the zoo. I was a master of saving the zoo and saving all those little zoo creatures. Looking back out how basic and simple the game was surely makes me appreciate how far we’ve come but is also humbling to see where we came from.

  3. These early games had one big flaw-they did not have a good save function. I remember having to restart over and over again because the computer crapped out, I turned it off, or the save file was “corrupted.” Games like these made you appreciate progress, because you often had to go back again and again to the same point.

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