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26 August, 2014

A Personal History Of Games

(Apparently I'm down to 'I make a post once a year or so'. I should work on that... this last year has been really shit for my being able to keep up with my posting anywhere.)

I was, in my wanderings around the internets, linked to this article on the history of the video game industry. About which I have a lot of odd thoughts.

Scene: the early to mid 80s. I am at a friend's house, and I am playing Pac-Man. I love Pac-Man. I suspect, secretly, that I bore her, because I want to play Pac-Man, or Jumpman Junior, or other games, rather than the sorts of things she wants to do. Sometimes I deliberately suggest other things, even if I'd rather turn on the computer, because I don't want to make it sound like the only reason I come to play is because of the games.

Scene: mid to late 80s. We have Brickles - a Mac version of Breakout - and I am extremely good at it. A single game can last over an hour.

My father knew the people who did Space War! and we have a copy of that. He has stories about playing it with one of the members of the Grateful Dead. At that time, I didn't know who he was talking about well enough to find it impressive.

We get the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game. And the clue book. I get scolded for revealing all the clues with the highlighter pen, but the book was as interesting to read as the game was fun to play.

Scene: maybe the late 80s? I am at my aunt's house, and my (male) cousin has an Atari. He is playing Pitfall. I am rapt; the idea of computer games is immensely compelling to me. My brother has a turn. I do not. Quietly, whenever we plan a visit to that part of the family, I hope that I might have a chance to get a go at the Atari. Sometimes, I get a turn at Spy Hunter, but never enough to get good at it; we don't visit often, and clearly, the Atari is for the boys.

Eventually, my cousin gets a Nintendo, and the Atari - and its crate of games - comes to us. I discover Joust.

Scene: early 90s. I have a friend with some of the King's Quest games and Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?, who doesn't mind that sometimes I want to play.

My brother has a friend with a Nintendo and one of the Super Mario Brothers games. Sometimes I wheedle my way into playing with them.

The one friend I have at school after my neighbour friends move away is just as painfully nerdy as I am. Unfortunately, he thinks that being interested in playing Tetris together means we're dating.

Scene: 1993. The whole family is trying to figure out Myst. We never really manage it.

Scene: mid-nineties. My brother wins a colour-screen Game Gear and Sonic the Hedgehog in a raffle, because my brother is the sort of person who wins raffles. He gives me his old Game Boy for Christmas. I promptly learn how to beat Super Mario World all the way through and then get the option to beat it on hard. Then I do the same thing for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.

When my brother gets a Nintendo and is playing Mortal Kombat I sometimes lurk in the background and watch him play with his friends.

It never occurs to me to ask my parents to get me a game that I would like to play.

Girls don't play video games, you know.