As hard as it is to believe, I wasn’t always the Elite-Pro-Level-Gamer I am today. There was a time when I sucked at video games, a time when I’d routinely get beaten by my Dad, a time where I thought ‘NINTENDO RULES AND PLAYSTATION SUXS’.
In this dark time before I discovered Girls, Money, and that most delicious of drugs named ‘The Internet’, I’d spend hours re-playing the same track on Biker Mice From Mars, I’d play endless matches of Street Fighter 2 Turbo and work my way through the same level in the Donald Duck game I received for my 7th (maybe?) birthday.
As I grow older and my experiences with life and Video Games change, I clutch onto these memories of a simpler; happier time. I may never be able to re-enact them again, but I’ll always remember them.
Here’s my Childhood in Video Games.
The ‘Girls are Stinky and have Lurgy’ Years.
Fever Pitch isn’t a well-known game, I don’t even know if it was a good one, but it is the first memory I have of playing games with my Dad. We’d spend hours (which is a lot for a man who doesn’t game) playing the same match over and over again because I couldn’t work out how to navigate to the team selection screen; oh to be young again.
Looking back, it’s one of my favourite memories of my youth, one of the rare times that me and my Dad hung out and played a video game. Being the little idiot I was, he’d beat me every time, and moan at me when we played on the same team and I tried to score whenever I had the ball (gotta do it dad – confidence is key), but it didn’t matter. If I could go back in time to any point in my childhood, this might be the moment. A young boy playing games with his Dad. Does it get any better than that?
After Fever Pitch, everything get’s a little spotty. I found myself with a Super Nintendo, which in itself was quickly superseded by the more powerful Nintendo 64, which in turn was replaced by the wonder-machine that was the Sony PlayStation, so you’ll have to forgive me for my memory being a touch all over the place.
There is one memory from this time that sticks with me though.
Christmas day had finally arrived, and being the excitable child I was, I rushed over to the pile of gifts on the floor, grabbed the largest box I could find and tore into it. Nintendo 64. Brilliant. I knew what it was before I’d even grabbed the box, but that didn’t take away any of the excitement; I’d been waiting months for this moment.
After my mum to set the system up (I was like 8 – nope), I spent the next 3 hours sat in front of the television, slowly getting used to this new world; the bright colours and the fact that everything was in 3D.
I remember slowly working my way up to the top of the mountain and defeating King Bomb-Omb with my no doubt bored mother watching. I remember my father moaning that he wanted to watch some TV (a one TV household, how quaint), and I remember thinking that it couldn’t possibly get any better than this.
I was wrong of course, as with any Nintendo 64 game, it’s not held up all that well visually, but at the time it was the most impressive looking thing I’d ever seen, a wonder to behold; the mere fact that it was in 3D was a revelation to me.
Flying forward a few years to my 10th birthday, I was all about the latest trend from Japan; Pokemon. I was into the show, the card game and like any self-respecting kid who played video games, the Gameboy classic; Pokemon Blue.
Me and my friend Callun would sit in the back garden for hours at a time over the summer holiday with no school in the morning and no parents nagging us to get to bed; just two boys and their Pokemon. It was perfect, right up until the batteries died, or the light faded. I don’t remember which gave out first, but I do remember making the slow shuffle back towards the house hoping I’d managed to save before that little blinking red light of stress finally went out.
I fell out of love with my Gameboy and Nintendo 64 eventually, I guess I was just too cool for that now. The cute characters and bright colours were to be replaced by hyper-violent games such as GTA, Die Hard Medal of Honor. However no post about my gaming childhood would be complete without a nod to LMA Manager. A Soccer Management Sim where you aim to guide your team of no hopers to European Glory. This game sent me down an almost 10 year spiral of nothingness, as you’ll see a little later on.
The Awkward Teenage Years
As I grew older, I found I wasn’t spending as much time playing games any more, I just wasn’t interested in anything Anything that wasn’t Championship Manager that is; because why play anything else when I’m already playing the perfect video game?
Football Manager is another Soccer Management Sim that almost ruined my life (thanks LMA Manager). It’s well-known for being highly addictive; they’ve written books about it, made documentary’s about it and the game itself references it; It’s a drug. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to find that it had me and my two younger brothers within its grasps.
The three of us would often sit on three different computers, in three different rooms, managing three different teams whilst desperately cursing at our own screen whilst the other two brothers listened in intently, ready to jog over to see if help could be given if one brother was struggling with his team.
The game really did own us for a while, and whilst none of us play it any more, the urge is still there even now. It’s been a good 6 years since my last foray into Football Manager, and even though I’m no longer a Football fan, I can hear it calling me back.
As I’ve already mentioned, I took a 3-4 year hiatus from Games-That-Weren’t-Football-Manager, and it took a long time for me to get back into video games, but when eventually I did, the game that did it almost spawned an entire genre of rip-offs of its own. Gears of War.
Despite my initial trepidation (I famously said ‘I bet it won’t even be that good’), the game was a complete reawakening for me. It looked great, played even better and had fricken GUNS WITH CHAINSAWS!. It was the perfect game at the perfect time, and me and my middle brother (Lewis) dove in head first; completing the campaign in less than 2 days, and then repeating the feat twice more over the next month or so.
Gears of War holds a special place in my heart for a similar reason that Fever Pitch does. I had just turned 18, I was leaving my childhood behind and whilst I didn’t know it at the time, It would be one of the final times I’d get to hang out with my Brothers before the big scary world of ‘Adult’ hit me. Me and Lewis ended up completing the entire trilogy together (Online Co-Op for the third game – because life happened). Gears of War will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason, it allowed me to share something with my brothers.
So there we have it, a brief look into my childhood with Video Games. What did you play as a kid? What are your favourite memories of gaming as a child? Drop me a line in the comments, or via Twitter. Thanks for reading.