Thursday, February 28, 2013

Retro Gaming Memories #1 - Birth of a Gamer

I’ll start with a quote, that my pal Dave would have no problem recognizing. And if you recognize them too, then good for you. You’re obviously a fellow gamer.

“Stay awhile, and listen.”
It’s hard to say when exactly I became obsessed with video games. I guess you can say it was when I first laid eyes on a big half wooden / half plastic box that reminded me of my families old cable channel changer.
Speaking of which – does anyone remember having one of those things? It was a huge brown box giving you an option to change only 13 channels, and you had to use this little switch or lever on the side to go through the higher channels. It was a real pain in the ass to get to nickelodeon as a six year old kid using that thing. Not to mention I would always break it by dropping it.

Anyway, I’m getting off track.
I don’t remember the day, or the year, or whether or not it was a holiday or a birthday. All I remember is my dad plugging in some weird looking box into the front room TV. Mind you, this TV would later become the “game room” TV. We would have many memories, this TV and I. Hopefully you’ll relive them with me.

Atari 2600

So there I am, a three year old sitting on my hands, waiting very impatiently with my sister by my side for him to finish hooking this monstrosity up. I could remember how many times he told me to calm down. A few minutes later and he was done. He snapped in one of the cartridges and started flicking the switches on the front of the box. The screen flashed and he grabbed the controller, and before my eyes two pixelated airplanes were flying on the screen, while avoiding crashing into giant misshapen ovals (which I later would find out were actually clouds..oh I how loved hiding in them)
Of course I was awestruck – I remember seeing pictures and hearing about the new Nintendo Entertainment System and I was craving a video game system now, so this Atari 5200 had to make do until my parents decided to get one. It would still be another year before we bought a Nintendo system (we wouldn’t get one until 1987) – but I had to play something. I didn’t even touch the controller yet and I was already obsessed.
So my dad showed me and my sister the basics on how to maneuver the airplanes, and gave us each a controller. Thus began the first moment of video game competition between me and my sister. I flew at her with no remorse and completely decimated her. Or at least that’s what I am going to say now, because I refuse to believe she would beat me at a game. Although she probably did, but I’m not going to give her the luxury at this point in time.
We must have played for what seemed like hours, although in actuality it was probably only 20 minutes. I remember getting pulled away from the system, but not before I saw a case of other atari games sitting on the floor. My dad had been hiding this from me for three years. Of course I was only three, but three years of my life had already gone by where I was not exposed to video games. 
I went to bed that night, unable to sleep, thinking only of the games that awaited my inevitable conquest.
And that’s how it started, to the best of my knowledge anyway. This is how I became a Gamer.



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