The third quarter of the 1990s was an especially critical time in my development as a young man. This was the period of time where I was just beginning my journey of finding out my true identity as a person and as someone who interacts and uses technology on a daily basis.
One of the unforgettable moments in my life was the first time I played Chip’s Challenge on Windows 95. I came across Chip’s Challenge by accident. It wasn’t stored in the default games folder in Windows 95. Instead, I found it in a folder my mom had put in the C: directory. The folder contained several games, and obviously Chip’s Challenge was one of them.
I can remember the excitement I felt as I was beginning to figure out what the game was all about, what the objectives were, and the autonomy I had within the game to complete those objectives.
Before discovering Chip’s Challenge, I was very much limited by games that were designed primarily to sharpen certain skills in a very controlled fashion, while consequently abandoning the possibility of autonomous thinking.
Though games like Treasure Mountain, Math Blaster, and Fatty Bear’s Birthday Surprise were almost like 2nd, 3rd, and 4th hearts aside from the one I was born with, these games had their shortcomings in terms of what they offered children at the cost of something else. The cost in this case was the development of strategy solving skills. One of the negative features in games like Treasure Mountain and Fatty Bear’s Birthday Surprise is that these games did not have multiple ways of solving a solution. There was a predefined journey that was not going to change regardless of how you choose to play the game. In these games, there was a strict path that guided a linear sequence of events which ultimately led up to the conclusion of the game.
Chip’s Challenge, on the contrary, provided a means through which to develop certain vital elements of strategic problem solving and cause and effect relationships. It was a game that, for the most part, allowed the user to proceed through the level without following a strict set of instructions (with the exception of needing to find keys to open doors). Because of this extra autonomy that the player had, the game also provided consequences (both positive and negative) for many of the different choices the user had when proceeding through a level. If you made a poor choice, you would ‘die’ and the level would restart. If you made a good choice, you would proceed one or more steps further through the level. If you kept dying on one particular level without making progress, the game would ask if you would like to skip the level and move on to the next level.
I appreciate Chip’s Challenge for it’s contribution to the entertainment arena and for it’s contribution to the partial formation of the framework of the ethics and standards I now hold as accurate and relevant.
If you would like to see what this game is all about, please check out the Chip’s Challenge website. This game can run on Windows and Linux as far as I know. The only platform I have not tested Chip’s Challenge on yet is any Mac-based platform.