Much thanks to GoG.com for giving me the inspiration for this post!
I am now Of A Certain Age, and if I’m being really honest, I don’t entirely remember the order of things from my childhood. I remember my uncle, who lived with my grandparents at the time, having an ColecoVision, which according to Google could have been as early as 1982. I remember many, many hours spent playing games on an Atari 2600, which was originally release a few months before I was born, and was, in fact, the majority of the console gaming that I did prior to being an adult. I definitely cut my gamer-baby-teeth on Space Invaders, Megamania, Pitfall, and yes, even E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. But I don’t think any of those were what really got me into gaming.
I didn’t really fall in love with video games until I spent some serious time with computer games. I vaguely remember having some sort of computer at home, with a few text-only video games accessed via cassette tape, but I don’t really have any strong memories of what exactly I played like that, or where that machine ever ended up. No, the first video games I remember getting really invested in, I wasn’t even playing.
From the time I started school until we moved after I finished fourth grade, I spent most of my afternoons with my grandparents and my uncle on my mother’s side. If I do the math (and boy, do I hate doing the math), in 1986, I would have been nine. My uncle, who I realize now must have had the patience of a saint, would have been around 25. I don’t know that Might & Magic was the very first game I watched him play for hours on end, but it’s the first one I remember that I can put a name to.
I can only imagine I asked a bajillion stupid questions, as children tend to do, and he was always great about talking me through whatever I didn’t understand. I remember using the code-wheel and game manuals to help him get through the onerous copy-protection. And I remember being absolutely entranced in this oh-so-pretty fantasy world he kept in a small box on his desk.
It wasn’t until I was in my teens that we had a computer at home that I had regular access to, and I didn’t have a machine of my own until I was in college, but playing games on PC always seemed like the “right” way to play. This is probably why I am, to this day, crazy clumsy with a controller, and really awful at platformers. I would occasionally play console games when I was at a friend’s house, but the games I really enjoy were all better suited to mouse and keyboard. In fact, some of those games I really fell in love with in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I still go back and play to this day. The very first game I ever purchased on Steam was a copy of a game I played to death when it came out in 2003.
Sometimes, I feel like this is a thing I probably should have grown out of by now, but mostly, I have a deep appreciation of the evolution of gaming just from having seen it grow as I have also grown. I cannot even imagine how different my life would have been if I hadn’t had my uncle to introduce me to this absolutely fascinating world.
Bonus Blaugust prompt idea: You all don’t need me for this one, do you?