Being a little kid in the 1980’s was a wondrous time for video games, but it wasn’t until after the market crashed that the industry really became the staple it is today. It seemed like every store I walked in, had a standup arcade or pinball machine. While a quarter per play didn’t seem like much in the moment, arcade games had a way of draining my already tiny wallet, but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Countless times I would walk into a store with a dollar in my pocket. Maybe I would find a treasure of some sort, a cheap toy or a few candy bars to share with friends later. I always had the intentions of making a purchase, but I often walked to the register and asked the clerk if they would give me 4 quarters so I could play Ms. Pacman or whatever game was available.
I had a couple different consoles at the times as well. Atari 2600 and of course the phenomenal Nintendo Entertainment System and at some point I picked up the first sega console. Consoles were expensive and the games were often priced higher than they are in today’s market. It wasn’t often I’d be seen making a purchase in a store for the latest game I wanted, but I managed to gather quite a large collection of games, thanks to yard sales.
My mom would make me travel in the car with her while she drove around looking for yard sales. I would find the best gadgets, toys and video games at these people's houses. While they saw no real value in the items they simply wanted to be ridden of, I found treasure. Rummaging through boxes and walking away with 10 Nintendo games priced at 10 cents each, Atari games priced for a nickel! I could stretch $5.00 so far with these yard sales, it almost felt wrong.
Video games were a lot different back then though. We weren’t connected to the internet and playing with friends meant you were all together in the same room, using the same tv and in some instances, using the same controller. I remember going to a friends house for dinner and afterwards the entire family would gather in the living room and take turns showing off their skills in Super Mario Bros. and laughing along with the dog during a round of Duck Hunt.
Sometimes when friends came over to spend a night, we would play outside all day and as Saturday began to darken, a bunch of us would be up late with the tv being our only source of light. Each covered in our own blankets, draped over our heads and wrapped tightly around our bodies, while playing Simon’s Quest, hoping to finally confront Dracula ourselves, for the very first time. Video Games really brought together some great moments in not only my childhood, but for so many other people as well.
To this day, I am still an avid gamer. I raise a family of my own and I make sure that as a family, we all have some exposure to video games in our household. I use them to teach my kids good sportsmanship, teamwork, how to handle a loss and how to enjoy a victory. I use them to help crack open the creativity in their minds, explain to them that these worlds all come from within someone else’s thoughts and they too can create anything they can imagination!
Every generation of video games holds its treasures in different ways. Everyone has different memories of what they played, who they played with and so on. So tell me, what generation did you become a videogame hobbyist? What are some of your favorites memories and games? Your first console? And more importantly, do you still game?