I’m game if you are

The first computer experience that I ever had was games based. I was just behind the generation that brought home these new fangled computer games; in my case my older brother who had the parentals buy him a commodore or something. I remember it ran on tapes; you had to put the tape in and let it program the computer and then you could play. Want to change games, put in another tape, wait, let it load and away you go. The computer itself just consisted of a brown and orange keyboard with a tape deck in the corner; it just plugged into the tv. We had a Pac-Man rip off called Pâk-Man or something (he was shaped like a square) and a flight simulator game and a downhill skiing game that I really loved. When you crashed and died it played a funeral march.

Of course, we also had those Nintendo game and watch devices. They were small screens that could be set as clocks and used as alarms, but I never met anyone who ever did, and no one in our family ever did. We had Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jnr, and other nameless ones such as this underwater treasure hunting game where you as the diver had to avoid the arms of the octopus to get to the treasure chest. They were great on long car trips on our summer holidays.

When we finally got a computer at home I had a Discworld game that consisted of illogical puzzles you had to solve and a Jedi Knight game that I don’t think I ever got around to finishing. It’s not that I didn’t like games, I guess I just preferred my music and my comics.

So it was that I didn’t hang around the school computer lab and play Doom for hours as did many of my buddies back then.

Of course I did play the odd arcade game, but mostly I remember watching my brother play them; I embarrassed him I think by jumping around in excitement. I tried to master one arcade game at my local deli. I tried this just so that I could one day say just that; that I used to go hang out at my ‘local soda stand and play the computer games’ (probably should say pinnie/pinball to complete the picture but there weren’t many of them around). The game was Captain America and the Avengers, just the thing to appeal to the comic fan in me. I would get some change from my purchase of Masters Spearmint Milk and play a few games. I would have my change at the ready. I remember I once tried keeping the change lined up against the screen only to have it start to fall down through the crack into the game console. I had to stop play and quickly save my money before it slipped completely out of view; I lost a life because of that. Good thing then that I now had the change in my hand to continue play.

There was one holiday period I remember my brother went and hired a Nintendo from the Video Shop, which now offered games for hire. We got out the arcade games Double Dragon, Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jnr. My brother has no doubt long since forgotten all of this but I beat him resoundingly at Donkey Kong Jnr. From the little kid jumping up and down at his brother’s side at the little arcade game set up at the Bunbury Caravan park (I’m pretty certain I would have been in pyjamas whilst at his side on this occasion, as it was the evening) on Summer holiday while he played Donkey Kong, there I was beating him at Donkey Kong Jnr. Obviously he beat me at the other two.

When I finally got online at home sometime in the 1990’s, a good buddy (now on facebook) got me into Its Your Turn.com (wonder if that is still going) where you could play chess and battle ship via email. You had a turn and then the next person would receive an email advising them it was their go. The novelty lasted longer than you might think and we actually played a few games this way.

So, being the nostalgist that I am, I really got excited when I got the chance to buy these cute little arcade style consoles that plug into your tv and allow you to play Pac-Man, Ms Pac-Man, Galaga, Galaxia (another one I remember from looking round my brother’s shoulder) and some others. They are great but I don’t get to play them as much as I would like. Also, I can’t find the book. Somewhere back at the parentals’ place is this book I bought at a booksale years back about how to play Pac-Man that went thru every level and how to do it. I remember the advice that Pac-Man can travel faster thru the tunnels than the ghosts so I use that to my advantage. There is also supposed to be some little corner where the ghosts don’t ever go so you can hide there and rest your wrist; I need the book to find it. I could Google for it, but where is the fun in that? There was another Pac-Man book that I never had but saw once about the Pac-Man mania of the 80’s. Another one of those I wish I had bought them buys. Of course the biggest Pac-Man wish I have is the board game. Years later when I got into my board games collecting phase (I will post more board game reviews; just gotta unpack them and pick up some from the parentals’ place) I came across a Pac-Man board game. You had this big yellow Pac-Man piece that went around picking up white marbles. I wish I had been able to buy it. Every time I see it on Ebay I get turned off by the additional postage cost.  I do have the educational Pac-Man card game, that teaches you about mathematics. I suppose this is the time to admit that I actually never got to play Pac-Man back in the day, but I did watch the cartoon. I also watched the Donkey Kong cartoon.

Whoops, strayed a bit off topic there. Back to computer games I think.

So, I loved the session we had. Got to revisit 1942 and 1943 a fair bit and little bit of Spy Hunter.  Weird though playing these games without a joystick, but great that I can so easily play them online. No need for 20c pieces anymore. Also, I looked but I just could not find this one game I remember that was sort of like Lunar Mission, where you had this armoured moon buggy that jumped holes and blasted baddies in front and above. Wish I could remember the name of that one so I could find it and play it.

The other game I investigated is the Impossible Quiz. Got some of the people I follow in Twitter involved and we got a fair way thru. I’m definitely past 50; big shout out to Morgandorffer and UU for all their help and persistence with that one.

Games are good, and I love playing them, I just don’t know how to incorporate them into education here at the library. I guess I’ll keep playing them until I do.

To end, since Retro Lib Lad took the obvious choice let me leave you with this little ditty from Moby Grape: “I’m playing my game, and I’m guessing you’re playing it too…”


7 Responses to I’m game if you are

  1. ultimatelyuplifting says:

    You sure are chatty today. The games and reminiscences about old computers bought back some memories. We had one which was in colour-only orange, and the kids played Lemmings then a game called Zargon – they named their pet guinea pig after that one. Sounds like you also had a lot of fun. I remember my youngest daughter had Carmen Santiago which she enjoyed and later was really into Sims. Me, I have missed a childhood of computer games but ejoying them selectively now. Great Blog!

  2. morgandorffer says:

    Wow- your blog reminded me that I had a bigger gaming history than I had allowed for in my own post re: gaming. I forgot that I was a demon on the table top space invaders (I was raised a pub kid) but never very good at Pac-Man. I’d forgotten my Donkey Kong dual screen game and watch- I got so good at it I discovered that if you got to 1000 points it defaulted back to zero (having only three digits for the score). I forgot Super Mario Cart (that horrible critter on the cloud with his helpful “wrong way go back” sign) and then graduating to DOOM. Tomb Raider was next, then Ratchett and Clank- oh and I remember a stage where my housemates and I used to call out “Spinning Bird Kick!” the battle cry of someone on Streetfighter I think.
    Revelation: I am a huge games nerd! I think I need to go home and resurrect the Playstation.

  3. arotulon says:

    ah, space invaders. I did neglect to mention that my sister got a super nintendo and we had the original space invaders on it. Oh, I still remember the look of that old arcade game, with the big black pixelated monsters on the side of the arcade box.
    And yes, the table top games; how good were they? You could put your coke down and play!

  4. Trav says:

    🙂 Doom in the computer lab after school on Tuesday! The good ole days when the biggest problem in life was having to get to the lab first so you made sure you got one of the 486’s and not have to play on a 386!

    I never knew you had such a colourful history with computer games! Have always thought of you as more hands on/social board/card game player.

    • arotulon says:

      Yeah, I surprised myself just how much I have had to do with computer games.
      Wait till I start up my games review, which I keep meaning to do, then you get to hear about my social/board/card game side. 🙂

  5. […] hand store down near where I once played computer games and drank Spearmint milkshakes (see my gaming history blog entry – I was trying to live the Happy Days life) where they had a few records. I remember there was […]

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