Personal Video Game History

I just read an article asking “What game turned you into a gamer?” and I realised that I have been one as long as I can remember.

When I was a very young child in the 70s I used to be terribly excited to go to the airport. While I liked aeroplanes as much as the next boy the real attraction was the that they had a game arcade. I always made a bee-line for it (I can still rememeber exactly where it was!) – but only after begging for money from my parents.

This was pretty early on in gaming history and most of the games they had there weren’t actually video games. Instead they were electro-mechanical devices with gears and pulleys and little models on rails. One of my favourites was where you used a gun to shoot tanks and it used a red bulb to light up an explosion graphic whenever you got a hit. They did have some early video games too, such as Sea Wolf and Pong.

Then my local dairy (corner store for you damn foreigners) got Space Invaders and that was the end of any plans for saving my pocket money. If we didn’t have any 20c pieces we’d just stand around and watch others play, trying to learn the firing patterns to get 300 points when you shot the UFO.

Next up was Thru-the-Wall (aka Breakout) followed by Galaxian, Pleiades, Galaga and others. Sadly I never got the hang of the controls in Defender and I still struggle with games with too many buttons to press (yes GTA, I’m looking at you).

One of my favourites was Time Pilot and I must admit that this was partly because it was one of the few games I was actually good at. I also liked Phoenix and would play it with a friend hovering their finger over the shield button for last minute saves – and the inevitable arguments when they pressed it too late.

I wouldn’t really call myself a gamer these days. To me the term now implies that you’re part of the online role playing movement or heavily into killing your friends with first person shooters. I still play the occasional video game, mainly concentrating on the best car driving simulation I can afford which is currently Forza on the Xbox. Thanks to the generosity of Homagenz I’m also going to give Morrowind a try too.