At some point in time, every gamer out there receives their very first video game system. I’m not talking the first video game they have played or the system they played it on. I’m referring to the very first console that was officially their own. Whether it was a gift or personal purchase (usually a gift), it is a memory that resonates with many of us, as if it were just yesterday.
Over the years, I have heard some great stories from people that speak about those gaming memories. Their eyes light up like the sun and the tone in their voice becomes gentle just before it revs up toward excitement. While not everyone has stayed dedicated to the gaming scene, even those have left video games behind, still hold onto those great gaming moments.
I know this one guy that tells the same story every year. He loves talking about the year he got an Atari. I believe he said it was in 1979, between the ages of 9-12. I’m sorry I can’t recollect the exact details. You’d think I’d be able to after hearing the story several times a year for the last 8 years. Anyway, Joe always fills the room with delight when he mentions his Atari. While he doesn’t really play video games today, he is a gamer at heart, I’ll give him that much.
I got my hands on an Atari back in 1985, not long before the original Nintendo Entertainment System released. I did not own that Atari, it was my older cousin’s and she rarely played. My Uncle Terry, he played the Atari quite a bit and was happy to show me the ropes of gaming. Pac-man, Centipede, Asteroids, Defender, Donkey Kong, I could list my 50 games. I also don’t mind going on the record and saying that E.T., really was a crappy friggin game. I hated that game, Just saying.
Not long after I tried my hand at my cousin's Atari, I scored a Colecovision and Atari 2600 at a yard sale. I managed to purchase a box that not only contained both consoles, but came packed with roughly 75 games. I made my purchase for a measly one dollar bill. The hosts of the yardsale were an elderly couple and the husband actually approached me with the box. He was a brittle man, a former soldier of the U.S. Army. He asked if I might be interested in the contents of the box. I know my eyes must have lit up as they still do when I imagine my first look inside the box.
I asked the man how much he wanted for the box of video games and he asked me how much I had to spend. Well, even back in the early 80’s, one dollar wasn’t very much, but the old man told me the box just happened to be one dollar... That day, it was worth a fortune to not only me, but to the elderly couple that sold me my very first and very own video game systems. A fortune to them, because they clearly knew the value of the box, but knew the true value of kindness was worth much more. A fortune to me, because that day I learned the true value of kindness myself, from them. That moment changed the course of my life in an instant.
I was a kid, growing up in poverty. I wore clothes that were used by someone else first, I ate leftovers that others couldn't seem to finish and watched idly as my mom struggled to raise her two twin boys on her own. We had a roof over head and I had a small black and white tv with my newly acquired videogames. I was humble, thankful and happy with what I had. I believe that if I hadn’t been able to stop at the yard sale, I would not be the same person I am today. And you know what? I’m pretty happy with who it is I am. I have grown up to raise a family, I own my own home with a decent amount of land and my kids don’t know what it's like to live in the same conditions I was brought up in.
To this day, 31 years later, I am still knee deep into gaming and through video games, I try to spread the same lesson I learned from those very kind folks that sold me that box. I try and spread kindness. I give away little video game collectibles, games, controllers, consoles, gift cards, hard drives, you name it, and I’ve probably given away to a stranger, just to be kind and hope that these people will pay it forward when they can.
Video games may seem like a childsplay novelty, but they are so much more. Great storylines, beautiful art filled scenery, an enormous community of players and so on. When it comes to video games, there is something for everybody, but most importantly, there is always that first moment, that first “I own this video game system” moment. Whether your first console or PC experience had the same impact on your life as it did mine, doesn’t really matter, but I’d like you to share your gaming moments with me.
If you can, take a minute to tell me about your first system, how it made you feel then and how it makes you feel today. Tell me about any of your favorite gaming moments and just enjoy your memories for a minute. Feel good about being a gamer, because it doesn’t matter if you’re core, hardcore, casual or if you’re like Joe and just carry that one fond moment, at the end of the day, a gamer at heart is always a gamer, no matter how much or little they play.