Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Don Hodges, who currently is displayed on card number 753, from the Superstars of 2014 Collection. Don is a classic arcade gamer who has analyzed program code for games such as Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, Defender, and Galaga. He may be the best known for his analysis of Pac-Man’s split screen, which he was able to patch by rewriting the fruit drawing subroutine. Don teaches computer science at Glendale Community college in California. He still loves playing video games on his computer and gaming consoles. You can learn more about Don on his website, www.donhodges.com.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
I remember playing Pong, but the game that stands out is Space Invaders. I think I was about 6 years old and there was a cocktail version that suddenly appeared at the local Mexican Restaurant that our family frequently went to. I remember playing it and having a lot of fun doing so.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
Today’s games are fantastic, and I don’t even try most of them. I have been sticking with the Battlefield series mostly for quite some time now. I’m also playing Apex Legends. It’s not fair to compare them. I grew up playing games in the arcade, which were always better than home consoles of the era. If you like a game, and like playing it, who cares what game it is?
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
Does my iPhone count? I use it to play games on the go on occasion.
Do you prefer PC or console gaming and why?
At the moment I am preferring to play on the PS4, but before the PS4 was released, I only played on PC. I think it is a matter of personal preference, as each system has its pros and cons.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
As mentioned above, currently playing Battlefield V and Apex Legends mostly. I love multiplayer first-person shooters and I also am digging on the Battle Royale mode that many games employ, like Fortnite and PUBG.
How does video game music influence games past and present?
Good music in a video game is very important. I love that modern games are using full orchestras and well-known composers for their soundtracks.
Are video games aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
Each game will have its own audience that will naturally be attracted to it. There is always some overlap between the categories. But who draws the line to say who is a child vs. who is an adolescent?
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
No. There is no evidence to support the idea.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
Online, the more the merrier. Friends are fun to play with when on the same team. I love large scale multiplayer battles like the ones that the Battlefield series offers.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
Sometimes, but learning usually requires some challenges to make sure, like an exam, so it can be hard to tell. I’m too lazy to try to learn; I’m too busy trying to shoot enemies and stay alive.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
Absolutely. But they can also cause stress, so you have to be careful about that. On occasion, I take Battlefield a little TOO seriously and can get carried away.
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
It would be a virtual world where anything is possible. And the main character would be you.
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
Sometimes. I love the original TRON movie.
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘video games’?
Nothing in particular. There are so many… I would have to ask “Which one?”
Of these five elements video games, which is the most important to you and why? Gameplay, Atmosphere, Music, Story or Art style
Gameplay. Because that is what makes or breaks a game.
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
I would love to have a Williams Stargate machine.
Which console company is your favorite and why? Nintendo, Sony, Sega or Microsoft?
I use a Sony PS4 currently and plan to get the PS5 when it arrives later this year. It’s the only one that I am really familiar with.
Do you find boss battles to be the best part of a video game?
Don’t play many games that have bosses. I used to play Diablo 1, 2, and 3. Boss battles were fun, but it’s not the best part of the game.
What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?
Single player? Right now, my favorite is Pyramid Solitaire. Multi would be Battlefield 4.
Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?
My role now is mostly in playing games like Battlefield and Apex Legends.
Where do you see video gaming in the next 20 years?
Wow, who knows? More VR games will be coming, and immersion will also improve and will begin to approach what is now science fiction. People will spend tons of time in these virtual living spaces, doing who knows what… Shooting each other, screwing each other, playing hide and seek, fighting dragons and rescuing princesses.
Todd Friedman is currently a writer for Old School Gamer Magazine and the Walter Day Trading Card Collection. He is the author of 2 books and has co-promoted the Video Game Summit for the last 15 years. Todd is also a board member of the International Video Game Hall of Fame.