Confessions of an Old Gamer
50 Years with a Controller in my Hand
As I crept closer to the crevice, I knew that a giant orc was waiting on the other side. He was much stronger than me and my puny bow, but I was hoping to get lucky with a headshot. I peeked around the corner and tried to aim without aggroing the beast when…
“Darryl! Let’s eat!”
It wasn’t my mother calling me to dinner, but my wife of 40 years.
I recently read another post somewhere, about another guy (it’s always a guy), who got old enough, mature enough, busy enough, whatever enough, to give up video games. Then there was the time when a neighbor was berating her son-in-law because “He’s in his thirties and still playing video games!”
I have to smile inwardly because, at 65, I’m about to wear out my sixth gaming console. Should I hold out for the PS5, or just grab another PS4 and keep playing the dozens of RPGs, FPSs, and other games in my current lineup?
Let’s back up just a bit.
In 1973, I was sitting in the bar where I had just started working, think Cheers but with better characters, when they rolled in this new thing called Atari Pong. Some of the old-timers looked at it like it was some sort of artifact from another planet.
Me? I sat down, plunked in a quarter, and started to play.
I spent most of the middle part of the ’70s in various video arcades mastering Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Asteroids, and finally, Donkey Kong.
Space Invaders Video Game
And then the inevitable happened.
I settled down.
Over the course of about a year, I met a woman, got married, bought a house, started my own business, and, well, settled down — no time for video arcades. Nights and weekends were for hanging out with my family.
Then Atari struck again.
We were at the local mall, probably shopping for towels or something exciting when I turned the corner and saw the Atari 2600. It had been out for a couple of years, and the department store I was in was having a sale, trying to move some units. It worked, as they moved one more that day.
Over the next several years, things spiraled out of control through new custom controllers, dozens of games, upgrading to a ColecoVision, and finally, our first home computer, an Apple IIe.
We bought the computer, along with this very expensive contraption called a 300 baud modem, so my wife could dial into college and continue working on her undergrad in computer science from home.
Me? I discovered computer games.
Zork and Wizardry kept me up to all hours of the night as I delved deeper and deeper into the dungeons and fought the dragons. We upgraded to the first IBM PC, and then an XT, and the games just kept getting better.
Until once more, the inevitable happened.
Video games, now with color graphics, improved to the point where our hardware would not keep up. The video cards and graphics processors needed to run new games had become too expensive, so, once again, I had to give up gaming.
Then…, no, it wasn’t Atari this time, but Sony; those bastards!
I was now working in the IT department of a medium-sized company with a handful of other geeks. It was still the dark ages of computing, where only a handful of us held the keys to the kingdom. I had grown through the dial-up days with my modems, and now broadband Internet was a thing. The World Wide Web was still in its infancy, and a whole new world of wonder was just opening up.
Then, one day, I had a conversation with a coworker about the demise of my video gaming days. He just looked at me for a minute.
“Dude, I need to introduce you to Lara Croft.”
Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash
The next day, he brought in his Playstation, hooked it up to a projector, and shot a five-foot Tomb Raider on the wall of our office.
And the rest, as they say, is gaming history.
That was over 20 years ago. I have stuck with Sony all these years, and my PS4, like its owner, is showing its age.
Now, if you will excuse me, there is a Corrupted Fire Bellowback that needs its little ass kicked.
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