The Great Aftertouch Debate
(or, How Beer Invented Motion Control)
At University we only ever played videogames whilst drunk. And we only had two games on our old house Sega Megadrive (Genesis): Micro Machines and a football game whose name is lost in the mists of time and alcohol. But this potent mixture of Sega football and cheap drink did help us ‘invent’ motion control.
Let me explain.
Most gaming sessions in our house at university took place on nights when we were too broke to go out to the pub. We’d long ago discovered that, for a few pounds, you could buy four cans of cheap Lager (which oddly was branded Lager Lager in Asda) and a big bottle of nasty pear wine, made local to Canterbury, called Perry. The resulting mixture hardly ever resulted in blindness - which was handy when you’re gaming.
Our libations taken care of, the crusty old Megadrive would be gently coaxed to life, and after a few rounds of Micro Machines, we’d move on to the main event: the football (soccer) game. It was an international tournament game, and Sega’s racial stereotype department had clearly been burning the midnight oil. Israel’s Manny Steinberg would face off regularly against Ireland’s ginger Johnny Joyce. In retrospect, the names were probably the most amusing aspect of the game.
As the night wore on, and the Perry/ Lager combo flowed, the player would often start making curious motions with the Megadrive controller after they’d fired a shot. At first it was just drunken enthusiasm, but soon shots that should never have gone in started to ripple the pixels at the back of the net. After a few weeks, it was de-rigeur for some players to move the controller around in the air after placing a shot.
We called it ‘Aftertouch’.
But like all good seats of learning, debate was part of life at our university, and there was much discourse on the actual efficacy and even existence of ‘Aftertouch’. The believers insisted that inside the Megadrive’s control pad, there was some device that detected movement and allowed you to guide the ball. The heretics completely denied the possibility of this device’s existence, instead insisting that it was merely a drunken illusion in a random universe. As an agnostic, I chose to deny the existence of the technology, but continued the practice of ‘Aftertouch’ (when no-one was looking). As seasoned university men, we all agreed to disagree. Each man was free to follow his conscience in regard to the mystery of ‘Aftertouch’.
But, I would like to think that in those hazy gaming sessions, we invented the concept of motion control. Only to have those believers over at Nintendo, led by His Holiness Pope Miyamoto himself, adopt our idea. Maybe ‘Aftertouch ‘ missionaries had crossed the oceans to bring the word to the unbelievers across the sea. Maybe their shrunken heads adorn to this day adorn the walls of Sony and Sega. But clearly the good word had spread around the globe.
(Perry however only remains popular within a 5 mile radius of the Asda supermarket in Canterbury)