My earliest gaming memories.
My dad was quite a forward thinking sort of guy, I suppose he still is. In the late 70's and early 80's he noticed that, very slowly, computers were being introduced into the company he worked for and the result of this was fewer people being employed there, not by a huge amount, and nothing by todays standards but enough to make him sure that they were going to be very important in the future.
So it was that sometime in 1984 or 85 (my parents cant quite remember) at 8 years old a Commodore Vic 20 made it into our home. This was a huge deal for my younger brother and I. I can still clearly remember going to my grandparents house on a Friday evening after school while my mum met my dad in town to pick it up after he finished work.
Being a practical man as well as a forward thinker, not only was the computer purchaced but also a very 1980's style desk for it to sit on, and a plastic keyboard cover to stop dust getting between the keys.
Once set up (on the desk) it lived under the stairs in our home, only to be wheeled out when used, and put away when finished with, much like the tv we had in school (you knew it was a good day when the tv was wheeled out at school)
Now according to my folks, the vic 20 was chosen because it came with a manual that could teach you to code in basic and they wanted their boys to learn how computers worked…
We just wanted to play the games.
And play I did, at every single opportunity.
Now because I was only 8 years old, and not exactly sure what I needed to do to load them, I was at the mercy of my parents setting it up for me and loading games. My mum either didnt like me playing it so much, or wasn’t very confident using it because it was usually left to my dad to set it up and let me play. And this is where my earliest, and one of my greatest, gaming memories comes from.
You see my mum used to work part time in a pub on a weekend evening for some extra cash for the family, and she always worked a Friday night. She would leave the house around 6 and ring dad to let him know she had arrived at work safely, and that was our que. As soon as we got that phone call we would wheel out the computer from under the stairs and spend the evening playing games.
I dont remember my younger brother being involved, but I can vividly recall sitting on the floor next to my dad’s chair playing the games we had. I’m not sure how many games we had either but 3 that stand out were, Doodlebug (a basic pacman clone) Megagalactic llama’s battle at the edge of time (where you would aim your llama spit to shoot spiders) and Blitz.
Blitz was sort of a Space Invaders in reverse. You started at the top of the screen in your plane and had to drop bombs on the city below to clear the screen of buildings so you plane could land, all the time your plane getting closer to the bottom with each fly pass, miss a building with your bombs and you’d crash, only a totally clear screen would let you land and complete the level.
My dad was amazing at this game. He could complete the game in a single life. He was so good that one summer at our church garden party, someone had set up a vic 20 and the game as a stall, pay 50p to try, win £10 for highest score.
He completed the game in 1 try.
It was so cool, by the time he finished it felt like everyone was crowded round watching and there was a huge cheer when he finished the last run.
And then he did something even cooler.
When the prizes were handed out he took the rosette and donated the prize money back to the church. He was my hero, and the talk of the school when I went back the following Monday.
This early gaming memory helped shape my love of gaming, a love that I still have today and made me aware of 2 things.
1: Gaming was my choice of entertainment. I don’t really watch a lot of television, I certainly couldn’t binge watch a box set or movies, I like music and have it wherever I go but gaming, gaming I love.
And 2: I love the social interaction between gamers, the memories you make and the journey you share when gaming together. I enjoy that as much today playing games with people online, as I did sitting on the floor playing Blitz with my dad, or 2 player Sensible Soccer with my brother, or couch co-op on Mario Kart 64, or even better 3 of us playing winner stays on Street Fighter 2 for the SNES one summer holidays as kids.
Thanks for stopping by to read some of my early gaming memories, maybe I’ll see you again soon.