Walk along gaming memory lane

July 15th, 2010 in .Blogs
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The other day, while I was at my daughter’s school induction, I ended up huddled in a corner of the tea room with the dads. The topic? Gaming, of course. Instead of my sitting alone on a chair, nervously eyeballing the other parents and wondering how to break the ice, I was laughing and chatting and making new friends. 

I’m not entirely sure what I would do without games, to be honest. This is not the first time that this passion of mine has saved me from an awkward social situation, and I doubt it’s going to be the last. Even when the shoe is on the other foot, when I’ve tentatively broached the subject in a room of people who wouldn’t know an FPS if it handed them a BFG, it has sparked a conversation and opened doors. 

It did, however, get me wondering. Is gaming something you are inclined to? Something that is a part of unique circumstances in your youth that got you hooked? In my case I had a father who was (and still is) addicted to all things gadgety, and who travelled extensively abroad. The combination of these two things meant that we had the wonderful ZX Spectrum before anybody else, the Atari console (hours and hours of Space Invaders), and one of the first Apple home computers. 

I remember patiently typing copious quantities of code into the ZX Spectrum, one mistake destroying it all. I could rapidly read through reams of code, find the error and fix it, before I was 13. I also remember writing up my entire thesis on the aforementioned Apple, only for the power to go out and lose everything. Hours of work, gone. Then, of course, dad got bored and along came our first PC. 

I couldn’t tell you the specs, I honestly can’t remember, but I can tell you that  we never looked back. To this day none of our family members use anything but the PC. I am filled with a sense of nostalgia though. Back in those days, when we were playing Doom and Duke Nukem, Myst and Half Life, the world of games seemed so much simpler. 

There was less drama about piracy and hacking, more passion and love for the genre. Those of us lucky enough to play those first games when they first came out, bonded enthusiastically over beer and barbecues. There wasn’t at least an hour dedicated to whining about the latest DRM, the ridiculous costs of games, the evilness of the gaming empire. It was, really, just about how you kicked butt in Doom and didn’t die of fright when a facecrab jumped at you in Half Life. 

And how you didn’t throw your computer out the window thanks to yet another ridiculously tough puzzle in Myst. 

This is not to say that PC gaming today is rubbish. Oh, far from it. Still we see id producing games for the PC FIRST! We see Valve giving us lovelies like L4D2. We have 3D technology like the PG276H monitor I wrote about on Wednesday, and graphics cards and motherboards that I just want to lick. But I won’t. They don’t like damp.

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