Gaming hit giddy heights in the 80s. My sisters and I were allowed to play the Atari whenever the hell we wanted to. Sometimes all day, cans of coke and boxes of Chicken Crimpy snacks our constant companions.
The day our stepfather brought our Atari home, was a very happy day indeed.
Pac-Man, Pitfall, Space Invaders—we were experts of them all. The graphics were cutting edge. Quickly setting ourselves up as a league of experts in our chosen gaming fields, our prowess branched out to GameBoys or, “Game & Watch” devices. One sister had Donkey Kong, the other Oil Panic.
I had Mickey.
Words cannot express how good I was at this game. I became one with Mickey’s basket. My nine-year-old thumbs would tap the buttons furiously, pre-empting the eggs as they came hurtling down. A master. Literally, the top of my game. My Mickey Game & Watch had a little metal stand that I’d flick back to prop up, to double as my alarm clock all through primary school.
I wish I still had it – there’s one selling on eBay with a current bid of $2000. *blink*
Classmates would soon begin to talk of a new kid in town: Sega.
My sisters and I were not swayed. We moved ahead with new Atari treats such as Defender, Frogger, and my one true love: Chess.
It wasn’t until I hooked up with a die-hard, Sega-loving boyfriend in the 1990s that I really appreciated Sonic the Hedgehog for the fun, zippy little guy he is. And Tails! A barmaid at the pub I was living in, my lunch breaks were spent furtively trying to foil Dr Robotnik’s evil plan, eating calamari, and chain-smoking cigarettes.
Then nothing. My gaming ways were like a sleeper cell, ready for a resurgence at any time. Finally, as soon as my stepson turned ten, I was game enough to game again. Having eased him in with some Bugs Bunny Time Machine on an original Playstation, we moved on to Rayman, Ratchett and Plank, and Daytona. I soon lost him to Call of Duty: Special Ops.
The discovery of Super Mario Bros in 2008 quite blew my pregnant mind. Transfixed and horrifically addicted, I would play day and night.
So bright! So fun! My son was six years old, and we’d sit and take it in turns. The baby in my belly would flip at the sound of Mario defeating Bowser at the end of the castle. One day, I stood at an ATM punching the keys and the baby started flip-flopping around like a performing seal. Because he thought the sound of the beeping keypad was the music at the end of a level, like some kind of in-utero Mario-infused Pavlov dog.
The day I sat on the couch with my son looking on as I took his DS Mario Bros all the way to the eighth castle? That was a big day. He still talks about it. “Remember when you won the whole game for me, mum?”
My youngest is now four years old, starting his own illustrious gaming career. Current toddler favourites in our house are Hulksmash, Jetpack Guy, and some ninja-cutting fruit thing. I have absolutely no problems with my children being gamers, so long as they’re also doing a sport.
I do miss the good old days. Availability of games online has changed the scene forever.
Which is why I need this iPod dock.
How about you … Atari or Sega? XBox or Playstation? DS or Gameboy?