I Was A Gamer At Heart Until I Grew Up

Atari2600I spent time with my 6-year old nephew last weekend. He really is into his Wii and all things Wii.

I started to reminisce about when I was around his age. There were two major events that stood out in my life at that time. The first was watching Star Wars for the first time on the big screen and the second was getting our first video game console. My father initiated both events. What else are dads suppose to do but expose their kids to events that are life changing? Thanks dad.

My father was an avionics engineer for the US Army. Our house was always filled with wires and circuits. I remember at an early age of having a basic understanding of circuitry and electronics. My dad was a tech guy at heart. He was always tinkering and building some electric contraption in our house much to my mother’s dismay.

I was around 7 when my dad exposed my brother and me to video games. There was a local pizzeria that had those big arcade games that you could play for twenty five cents. He inserted a quarter for us and the screen and sounds came alive. My brother and I were amazed and entranced. We were hooked. Going out for pizza became a routine for us. Not for the pizza but for the thrill of playing Space Invaders.

Shortly thereafter, my dad brought home our first game console from Radio Shack. I remembered it was big and had only three options for games (hockey, tennis, and ping pong) all of which looked alike. There were only two directions you could move-either up or down. My brother and I played for hours. We were masters of the monochrome lines and pixel square balls.

One Christmas we got an Atari 2600. It was light years from our previous beige game console. Graphics were better, sound was better, and we were able to move in more than one direction. My brother and I again became master of all things Atari – Pac Man, Defender, Missile Command. We were unstoppable. We played for hours and often got yelled at by mom and dad for spending too much time. Parents didn’t understand that you were not someone until you cleared a level and you were god if you finished the game. It was all about school yard bragging rights.

Then we got a Genesis console. This time I was older and started to discover girls. You really cannot meet a girl sitting in front of a video game. And most girls were not into video games. None-the-less I played, simply to get the upper hand on my brother and continue our sibling rivalry. Who was better? That answer is different depending on who you speak to. Since this is my blog – I was the better gamer. 🙂

In high school I was not too much into games. My pursuits were more of the female kind. But in the back of my mind I often heard the call of the video game.

As I got older and started working, I decided to revisit the console to see if the same mystique was there. My how technology has changed? I purchased a Dreamcast, Playstation, Playstation 2, and Xbox over the years. The graphics were realistic but the games were more difficult. Worlds where you could move in any direction. Online gaming where you are playing with people on the other side of the planet. I had to spend days to figure how to play. I didn’t have this kind of time anymore. I had to work to pay my mortgage. 

The excitement was not there as it first was all those years ago. Had I become jaded or just gotten old? So I put away my game consoles. 30 years of playing video games. Of saving the planet from invading aliens, vanquishing zombie armies, and blasting asteroids in deep space. I was a veteran of the game console, a joystick jockey. I now leave the fighting to the younger generation. I am now a veteran who spins tales of battles past and how the younger generation has it too easy. A generation that has never heard of Atari 2600, Pac Man, Defender or know the thrills of seeing a monochrome stick move across the screen.

P.S. On nights when my wife is not home, I sometimes pull out my console from the closet and plug it in. I come out of retirement to relive the days gone by – the glory days of when I was a gamer. 😉

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