Video Games

Pokémon Go has taken Kansas City by storm. As Pokémon pop up around us, we chat about how video games have changed us, and we discuss the distinction between virtual reality and augmented reality. Then we let our guests and listeners get back to their quests to "catch 'em all."

Guests: 

Anna Leach

Around 11:15 p.m. Sunday night, a police car drove by a crowd of around 60 people gathered near J.C. Nichols Fountain.

A shout rang out, and others quickly chimed in, the calls of what seemed like the entire group filling the warm night air.

The yelling, though, quickly morphed into laughter.

“‘I wanna be the very best,’” Rafeael Arevael sang, echoing the song that continued to blast out of the passing car.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Any errant Star Trek commander you see this weekend strolling downtown was not beamed down from the Starship Enterprise. Chances are better that they're taking part in Planet Comicon Kansas City. KCUR's resident sci-fi aficionados, Cody Newill and Mike Russo, went down to Bartle Hall to soak up the scene and talk to attendees.

With 155 million Americans playing regularly, the video game industry has hit the big time. While modern gaming serves up plenty of mental puzzles, prizes, and even opportunities for social interaction, the danger is keeping a harmless hobby from becoming an addiction.

Guests:

Richard Garriot de Cayeux is revered for his video game creations. Now, he’s set his sights on getting ordinary citizens  into outer space.

Richard Garriot de Cayeux presents 'From the Beginnings of Computer Games to Private Space' Flight at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16 at the Linda Hall Library. The event is sold out but will be available on a livestream.

Pro-athletes. A huge, cheering crowd filling the stadium. No, it's not a Royals game — video games have become a spectator sport, one that attracts massive viewership numbers. Two locals gamers tell us about KC's electronic sports scene.

Guests:

Rob DiCaterino/Flickr --CC

Mention Pac-Man, Galaga or BurgerTime, and a generation of Kansas Citians will conjure up memories of going to Fun Factory at Bannister Mall or Malibu in Overland Park. Well, good news, '80s kids: The arcade is back. KCUR's Cody Newill visited two bar arcades that opened in the Crossroads and discusses his experiences at both places — and reveals where he got the second-highest score.

Cody Newill / KCUR

For years, pinball and classic video games like Pac-Man held a special spot in American culture. But by the early 2000s, it was hard to find many arcades still open for business.

But that's changing with the rise of the arcade bar, a craze that Kansas City is just now getting in on.

At the opening night of the Up-Down, the newest arcade bar in Kansas City's Crossroads district, Brian Yates pumped token after token into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machine.

An Overland Park teenager plans his life around his favorite online video game to the point where his divorced parents agree on this much: “Get off the damn computer!”

DancingChimp / Imgur

Perhaps you've seen kids - or some adults -  busily playing away on their computers or Xbox, moving through a virtual world of blocks, digging and building.

Maybe you've wondered: What exactly is that game?  

Mobile gaming, or at least playing games on a cellphone, is nothing new. Just think of all the quick, sometimes mundane rounds of Snake you played if you were one of the lucky owners of that brick of a Nokia phone from the late '90s and early 2000s.

Yet as smartphones evolved in recent years, the number of games available on them grew rapidly, as well. It has become common to see users of Android phones and iPhones wrapped up in intense sessions of games like Angry Birds or Draw Something.