To the best of my knowledge, my gaming journey started with the Atari 2600 Dad brought home one day, probably around 1989 or ’90. He was a fan of Frogger, though I preferred two player River Raid and Missile Defense. I think we both gave up on Pitfall.
The early ’90s saw my cousins playing Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge and Street Fighter II (all 14 or so floppy disks worth) on their Atari PC. I was beaten at a lot of games on that computer, but was inspired and loved every second.
And then sometime in 1993 or ’94 I entered a phone-in competition on the Sunday Basketball Show to win a Super Nintendo Entertainment System. I then informed mum that I had entered and was going to win, which she took very well considering that I hadn’t asked first before calling interstate. She even tried to let me down gently by reminding me that thousands of people enter these competitions and that I was very unlikely to win. Unfortunately for my moral upbringing, fate rewarded my spontaneous action that day and my video game journey really picked up pace.
From these early instances family life has involved a string of consoles and probably a few too many discussions about who was actually the household Tetris champ or whether there would be any other cheap second hand games available at the video stores and Cash Convertors yet. In hindsight, gaming has provided a wealth of shared family experiences (both playing and collecting) and conversations between me, my parents (Dad in particular who I suspect enjoyed entertaining his inner child with all the new technology as much as we enjoyed entertaining ourselves) and my siblings*.
I see now that there would have been times when healthy enjoyment entered in to obsession territory and gaming was taken a little too seriously (“You turned it off?! I wasn’t at the save point yet!”), but on the whole video games appear to have left a positive legacy in my life and the lives of those around me. And I still managed to play sport regularly, maintain non-digital friendships, find a wonderful wife and get a music degree, so the addiction can’t have been that detrimental.
And now I have a young son who shall grow up with an understanding of terms like MMO, FPS and PvP, genuine social skills reinforced by positive (and occasionally negative I guess) interactions within games and an instant point of reference with the world of gamers around him. But everything in healthy measure of course.
I hope my musings either entertain or assist in procrastination. If they aren’t achieving those goals, go and play some games instead!
*Except for the last sibling who doesn’t care for Pokemon, and instead played Animal Crossing. We don’t know what went wrong with her… We still like her though.