Samuel McConnell

Games commentator

Samuel McConnell is a games enthusiast who has been playing games in one form or another since 1991. He was born in northern Maine but quickly transplanted to Wichita.

Though he spends a great deal of his time at his day job helping people with their computer troubles, he carves out as much time as he can to play video or board games, or to tinker with his home cinema.

Labels that apply to Samuel: Gamer, nerd, geek, techie, trekkie, whovian, cinephile.

Ways to Connect

Last weekend I was browsing a list of upcoming releases for the Nintendo Switch, and I saw a game I never expected to see on the console - or on any console, really.

I consider video games an art form. Some people, famously including Roger Ebert, would disagree with me, and that’s fine. It’s harder to dispute, though, that a large amount of art goes into video games - concept art, 3D modelling, creative writing, musical compositions, and more, all to create one cohesive work. It’s easy to ignore all these parts to focus on the whole, but often times this work deserves to be appreciated in its original form.

In the late ‘80s, one of the most well-known video games was Tetris. Originally from the Soviet Union and released in arcades and on a multitude of home computer platforms, the game was most popular when released for the Game Boy - in fact, it sold more than any other game on the system, with more than 35 million copies produced.

One thing the Super Nintendo is fondly remembered for is its role playing games - titles like Final Fantasy III, Chrono Trigger, or Secret of Mana. These games are story-driven and have you play as a cast of characters usually working to save the world from a great evil. 

Many mobile games have a very short shelf life - they’re hyper-popular for a few months, and then quickly burn out as players move on to the next one. But here we are, two years after the launch of Pokémon Go, and the game has more players than it ever has, outside of its first few months.

fuxoft / Flickr

This commentary originally aired May 9, 2013.

Fairy tales are a part of our shared cultural knowledge – if you refer to Jack and the Beanstalk, the Three Little Pigs, or Goldilocks, almost everyone knows what you are talking about.

For the last week, all the big game companies have been showing off what they’ll have for the next year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles.

Practically next door to KMUW’s studio is a little building that has something that Wichita has been missing for years - a real arcade, filled with games from the ‘80s and ‘90s, when arcades were at their peak. This arcade has a name that I think will be really easy to remember - it’s called The Arcade.

The NPD Group is a market research company that releases a report each month of every single video game that is sold. Usually these reports are fairly predictable: Lots of sales for the current consoles and PCs, fewer sales for the last generation systems, and that’s about it. But in last month’s report, there was something that nobody expected: one game was sold for the Sega Game Gear.

In 2007, I watched a documentary called “The King of Kong." If you aren’t familiar, it’s about Steve Wiebe, a laid-off engineer attempting to break the world record on the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong. The ostensible villain in this film is Billy Mitchell, who has been a prominent figure in arcade game high scores since the ‘80s. The movie shows Wiebe playing the game in his garage and getting the world’s first recorded score over a million points.