149/365 – Meditation Games #149 – POGStalgia

Developer: Nathan Pasko

Launcher Quote: “NASA POGS

Nathan Pasko

29 MAY, 1997–

You can smell the summer coming. The night air is warm. Alone in the cabin with windows open and the box of NASA pogs. That golden slammer from the museum gift shop. Looking for a few moments of peace.”

I never really got into the POGS craze of the late 90s (and yes, I realize that means I’m most certainly dating myself), and part of that was the fact that I was playing and obsessing over Magic: The Gathering, a game that at the time, seemed like it would be a popular fad like POGS was (oh, how time has proven us wrong). As a result I never really had a chance to play with POGS that much, but that didn’t keep me from appreciating this little nostalgia gem from back then.

More than this, I think this game kind of highlights some of the value of games which I like to call general idle time travel games – ones that are simple that tend to pass the time when you’re on the road, away from technology and anything resembling meaningful internet, and which are entertaining and can be repeated. In this age of mobile phones and the constant presence of the lure of being online, it’s harder to find such games or those that really enjoy them, but when you do, there’s an appreciation, regardless of the age of the participants, of the activity. POGS fits neatly into this category just because of the simple objective – throw the slammer and keep what lands a certain way – and it’s something that can be repeated as many times as needed to keep the entertainment of the game going.

On some level, we’re tempted to make games in general more complex – more realistic, more detailed, more like we would if we were actually experiencing the game ourselves. But there’s still an appreciation and a place for the more simple games with objectives that are straightforward and don’t require a lot of thought, like POGS. If that wasn’t the case, I’d expect there wouldn’t be as much popularity for games like Candy Crush or Pokemon Go – games that have a way of turning simple mechanics into entertaining game experiences. There aren’t many as widely enjoyed as POGS was back in the day that aren’t in video game format, but they definitely do exist, and still put in some work making trips like the developer’s a bit more fun.

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