It’s half past three on a Monday morning and you’ve got that term paper due at eight. Looking at the computer screen, you see only the whiteness of your Microsoft Word page. After re-reading the one sentence you’ve written, you decide to take a well-earned break and Alt-Tab back to your browser for “one last round” of that addicting Flash game that’s been waiting, determined to get a lasting high score. But many people never take the time to reflect on just how much these simple “time-wasters” have done to save us from everyday monotony.
The integration of Flash applications into the World Wide Web was a milestone in Internet history. They’ve provided so much entertainment in the form of web page design, videos, and animations, but nothing comes close to the magic of little in-browser Flash games. They’re up there on the list of most frequent Internet activities, competing with Facebook and porn.
We’ve all been victims to the wonders of these games at one point or another. They’ve robbed us of dozens of hours that could be better spent actually completing the projects that we were “working” on. Yet they’ve induced so many complex human emotions from delight and enjoyment to frustration and aggravation. People put a lot of work into producing these amazing games, and yet no one ever stops to thank them.
One aspect that makes Flash games so appealing is their ease of access and compatibility. There’s no need to invest in a powerhouse of a gaming rig to run Helicopter or Ping Pong. All you need is your computer, an Internet connection, and an abundance of time.
I have yet to stumble across a Flash game asking that you donate a “small fee” to unlock the rest of the excitement, so there’s no financial harm in giving them a try. Furthermore, there are always new games being released, adding to the already massive library, so there will never be a shortage.
Because of their allure, it’s the only platform that attracts gamers who swear by their consoles. Xboxers, Sony fanboys, and Nintendonians put their differences aside to engage themselves in a bout of Bejeweled or Super Stacker every once in awhile. Even the PC versus Mac war comes to a grinding halt when a particularly awesome title reaches the Internet. If only we could solve all of the world’s conflicts through the magic that is Shockwave Flash.
In addition, these mini marvels are truly worthy of praise and enjoyable to play. Because of their limits in graphical performance, they have to make up for it in gameplay and innovation. This can range from mundane concepts like flipping burgers to outright insane ideas, such as using ceramic baseball bats to herd mutant sheep past trap doors and inconveniently placed pits of snakes. Relying on unique and original concepts, the best masterpieces out there are often the simplest.
And let’s not forget how addictive they can be. While people are condemning World of Warcraft for eating thousands of innocent souls, the aggravating Impossible Quiz continues to quietly keep unsuspecting players up well past 6am. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find Flash games with the most fantastic electronic MIDI music, second only to the tunes found in downloadable key generators.
The pieces of magic in the form of Shockwave interactivity are so wonderful that they deserve a lot more recognition than they receive. They’re simply regarded as a mere distraction and not as a serious category of video game. And as unfortunate as it may be, very few people play Flash games because they want to. They just don’t want to be doing something else that they should be doing at the time. The games are regarded as unimportant toys that we could do without, but it’s clear that they’re much more. It’s high time we celebrated this underappreciated art form.