Week 01: First Video Game Experiences?
words by DrJohnGalt
A retro blog I follow (https://iheartoldgames.wordpress.com/) has posted the 52 Week Challenge. Are you ready?
This week’s question: What was your first video game experience(s)?
Answering the question isn’t nearly as easy as asking it. There are so many variables (console, genre, etc) that simply naming one game experience isn’t good enough. I’ll talk about a few different “first games” for me, almost all of which had an impact in my life of gaming.
First up was Pong (the ’77 Tele-Games Pong IV home console). I don’t remember too much about this one, but I do remember my dad brought it home one night for us kids to play with. We didn’t actually own it, but we did have fun with it for a while before it got boring. I was too young to realize just how awesome the technology was for home gaming at that point; I’d like to find an old Pong unit for my Collection.
My parents were card players, and every few weeks they’d go to play cards with another couple and us kids had to come along. But we didn’t mind, really, because there was an Atari 2600 waiting for us there. We played the classics, the arcade hits, and of course the best of the worst, infamous ET. Some of my favorites were Adventure, Haunted House, HERO (probably my favorite on the 2600), ‘Congo Bongo’, Frogger, Grand Prix, Pole Position, Q*bert‘ and Yars Revenge.
A few years later we got a CollecoVision. I’d been begging for an Atari of our own because all my friends had one, but for some reason dad decided on something different (and I always thought it was because it was the cheaper option, seeing as we picked it up near the end of it’s run). I actually liked the games a bit better than the Atari, but it was a bit harder to find and trade games with friends because nobody else had the same console (and we didn’t have the Expansion Module adapter to play Atari games). Two of my favorites were Keystone Kapers and Pitfall.
We also had an early black and white Macintosh. One of my favorite games was Transylvania, and I spent hours trying to complete the mission. It took a little help from friends, but I finally beat the game.* One of my other favorites was Dark Castle. It was fun, it looked good, but it was tough! I played and enjoyed the sequel a few years later but never did try out any of the ports or later versions of the game.
And who can forget the good ol’ Apple II? In school we’d often play Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Carmen is still one of my favorite games; I wish they would update it just a bit and re-release it. My best friend at the time had these games and more, including Summer Games and Winter Games. We’d spend hours at a time going for gold with those floppies!
Now it’s time to get serious; after all, I think this is where true gaming comes in. Yes, the original Nintendo Entertainment System. We weren’t early adapters. In fact, we had to wait for the price to drop quite a bit. I got to play on my friends’ consoles often but we didn’t get one in our own house until the Power Set (the bundle with the Power Pad, obviously) came out. Since everyone had the Super Mario Bros that came packed with most of the units, that game is one of my earliest NES memories. It was fun, but I never fell in love with the game itself like so many others. I loved the characters and the world, but the game just didn’t grab me like it did my friends. Duck Hunt was entertaining but didn’t hook me. And World Class Track Meet? Also fun, and the Power Pad added a new element to home gaming, but again, this wasn’t what made me a life-long gamer. I remember getting down on my knees and pounding the pads with my fists to beat a few of the computer challengers.
RC Pro Am (‘87) was the first non-bundle game we owned in the house. It was fun, it was tough, and it was unforgiving. I had a blast but the later stages were extremely frustrating, and the fact that you had to start over with the first race each time you played really annoyed me after a while. I did everything from memorizing track layouts and how to drive them to experimenting with how to handle the car. I ended up getting the best control by using two fingers on the direction pad instead of my thumb.
But this still wasn’t my most memorable title. At this point, video games were fun, but I hadn’t yet become the fanatic I am today. In a series of future posts I’ll write more about the handful of games on the early Nintendo systems and the PC that turned my gaming hobby into a passion.
So what was your first video game experience? Share in the comments below!