29th April 2018
I was born in 1974. I was fortunate to have been part of the first computer gaming generation. My parents grew up without computers in their life which looking back is quite sad, as I could never imagine such a life.
The computer scene in the 1980s was very much different to the scene of today, yet not that different at all.
Yes, the hardware and software of gaming today is mind-blowing compared to those early days, but the excitement of playing computer games and the addictive nature of the beast is no different. No different at all.
You can pick any genre in any age and the feeling of gaming has not changed at all. Games are games at the end of the day. They allow us to escape our ordinary (sometimes) mundane lives and live better lives. Gaming is a form of escapism rarely matched by other media forms.
Even the social aspect of gaming I would argue was still there, albeit in a different form. Today you can play a multiplayer game with almost any other human on the planet, which is super cool. In the dawn of the computer age, gaming brought people together socially on a more localised level. You met people at the arcade, or went to friends houses to share the gaming experience.
Gaming has a long history of bringing disparate people together. Even in the 1980s it did not matter what your colour, race, social background, sexual orientation, all that mattered was whether your top score on Pac-Man was higher than mine or whether you knew how to finish the Basement level in The Last Ninja 2.
As today, the gaming gods did truly walk among us, the only difference is that the internet was not there for them to brag.
My first computer was a Sinclair ZX81. A powerful beast of a computer boasting the grand total of 1K of RAM out of the box (or 16K with the addition of a memory pack. See, the Nintendo 64 was not the first computer to ship with insufficient RAM...).
To put that 1K of RAM into context, I would not even be able to load into memory the physical file that this blog post is stored in, and yet people actually wrote games for that machine.
I will repeat myself. People actually wrote games for a machine with only 1024 bytes of RAM. Now that is mind-blowing... Yes most of the games were crap, but they were games nonetheless. There are always exceptions and 3d Monster Maze is one of them.
My second computer was not actually mine, but belonged to my Step-Father. An awesome (yet flawed) machine was the Commodore C16/Plus 4. A horrible machine with some quite amazing features.
I cut my programming teeth on that machine, loved it to pieces. And like any first crush, it got completely blown away by the (computing) love of my life...
The first computer to literally change my life was the Commodore 64.
If you think the Xbox / Playstation war was the first of it's kind then think again. We were fully committed to Commodore 64 vs Sinclair Spectrum nerd gaming civil war back in the 1980s.
So, that means that game console flame war is now 35 years old. Bloody hell.
The Commodore 64 was an awesome machine of the era. It performed well enough for developers to release a huge number of quality games, many of which looked and sounded fantastic.
The game that literally blew my mind back in the day was "The Last Ninja". Such a step forward in terms of music, graphics and gameplay. It and the equally amazing sequals set the standard for me.
Another life changing game for me on the C64 was "Microprose (Sensible) Soccer". The forerunner to "Sensible World Of Soccer (SWOS)" on the Amiga / PC.
Other games like "BMX Simulator" and "Jack The Nipper 2" occupied a lot of my free time and are up there on my all time list. I still play them occasionally today.
Yes computer gaming times have changed (for the better I must add), but they are not as different as you would imagine.
Games are games, no matter what era you choose, or which platform you prefer.
The 11 year old version of me would smile the biggest smile in the world seeing what computer gaming has evolved into. We live in privileged times, built upon the blood, sweat and (virtual) tears of generations of people that devoted their lives to making pixels move and interact on a screen.
I love every single era of my gaming life. From the early days of 8-bit computing, through the 16-bit console era, PC gaming, the rise of Nintendo and Sony's Playstation to today's mobile gaming.
I have the pleasure of many different gaming platforms covering many eras of gaming, but the following machines stand out to me.
This is not the "Best gaming machines of all time", just my personal list. This is my blog, so this is my list.
Other amazing consoles / gaming platforms exist and are better than those on my list, absolutely.
I am simply sharing my experiences and I have a special bond with these platforms, and they cover different stages of my life.
I will be talking about all the above platforms and more in future blog posts I am sure.
Gaming in all forms and on all platforms is one of life's pleasures and should be embraced.
Code Wizard. Bringing the magic back into gaming.
Love gaming. Love life. Beat your high score.