Whatever happened to …

… Minesweeper?

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Microsoft Windows.

In the very beginning, it was a real hate/hate relationship.  I was an MS-DOS user and knew all the ins and outs and key shortcuts.  I loved Quickbasic and used the DOS version of Sprint as a word processor.  Life was good.  Everything was available via the keyboard and ALT-# to access things.

Along comes the world’s fascination with the mouse.  I remember seeing the Apple Lisa demonstrated at a MACUL Conference.  Things were impressive but limited to simple examples that you’d find when you’re doing a presentation for such a big audience.  As I sat there, I translated the mouse clicks into key combinations.  As we know, the Lisa led us to the Macintosh and spread the notion among those of us who use PCs “A Macintosh is a computer with training wheels that won’t come off”.

But our world was about to change.  It became impossible to buy a computer with just MS-DOS on it.  It came with this graphic interface called Windows. I have to smile when looking at trends these days towards a “flat” interface.  The original Windows had all that.  I ended up giving in and learned how to run things with this interface and the mouse.  It was better than Macintosh by a factor of two.  After all, the new mouse had two buttons to work with the block cursor.  The reality was that most of the software that we used was still based on MS-DOS and didn’t really take advantage of the new possibilities.

Then came the challenge.  We had to roll all this out with principals and support staff who had just run the gauntlet of learning how to survive in a DOS world.  Navigating with a mouse was tough.  You had to look at the screen and learn the mouse skill of moving it and clicking at the appropriate place and time.  What to do? What to do?

Teach mouse skills!  There were two wonderful games packed into the operating system.  Solitaire and Minesweeper.  By today’s standards, they were pretty primitive but all you needed to know about using a mouse for basic operations was there.

Move to today and your Windows 10 installation.  The familiar move to get Solitaire and Minesweeper just aren’t there.  (Or not readily apparent)  Solitaire is no longer a game; it’s a collection that can be accessed through the Microsoft Solitaire Collection where there are a variety of Solitaire games.  You’re strongly encouraged to log in so that you can compete and save scores.

Screenshot 2017-05-27 at 08.04.06

and buy your own copy too.

But this post isn’t about Solitaire.  I’ve done that before.

Minesweeper is a different story.  It’s not available in the default installation (that I can see)  However, it is available through the Microsoft Store for your puzzling pleasure.  In the great scheme of educating people about mouse use, it’s extra special.  Certainly, it’s a bit more of a challenge to play with a mouse.  Those blocks are so darn small.  It had an extra bit of value though.  Depending upon the size of the puzzle, it could really make you think.

And, like good modern games, Minesweeper has been updated with new game modes and challenges.

Screenshot 2017-05-27 at 15.32.42Things certainly have changed!  Instead of opening your computer and just playing your games, it’s become a bit of a puzzle itself.  Is it a comment on the userbase that Solitaire, a relatively easy program remains and Minesweeper that requires a bit of the ol’ grey matter didn’t?

How about sharing some of your gaming thoughts on this Sunday morning?

  • How did you learn how to use a mouse?
  • Do you have fond memories of the original Solitaire or Minesweeper?
  • Do you shed a tear when they’re now referred to as the “classic” versions?
  • Do your students today even know how to play these games or have they gravitated to something else?
  • How do these “classic” games hold their own in a world of Tetris, Flappy Birds, Candy Crush, Angry Birds, and all the first person shootergames?

Please share your thoughts via a comment below.

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One comment

  1. I was using a mouse before I used Windows but Minesweeper was fun. There was a time when I played Minesweeper by the hour. I haven’t player it in quite some time now. There are just so many more puzzle type games available. And I do play them. I could play many of them using touch but somehow the mouse just seems easier.


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