As a gamer, I am of what I think is a unique origin. My first experiences with gaming were electronic games, those little handheld devices with red LEDs in them, usually sports related. This was before video games were a household must-have item. (Simon was also popular. That was the sequence memory game with the 4 colors that flashed. You could play it alone or with others, making it one of the first multiplayer experiences I can remember. But this was after we got our first two video game systems....)
Enter "Video Games!"
First, we had the home version of Pong. I can barely remember playing it, to be honest. I think I was about 4 or 5 years old. By the time the magic wore off, there was a new item about to sweep by storm...
Second came Atari 2600.
This. Was. The. Shizzle.
My 7-year-old brain soaked up that 8-bit crack like a wake-n-baker. Looking back and trying to explain this to someone born even 10 years later, the best excuse I can give for why this was so addictive and fun is this: The 8-bit worlds created in these games required an effort on the part of the player to stretch their imagination. That is a concept I think anyone who didn't experience that era can not fully appreciate. Today, when you fight a dragon, it looks like a goddam dragon, not pipe cleaner art made vaguely in the shape of a mutated duck. Your avatar wasn't even a gun sticking out of the bottom of the screen. It was a square! In order to play, there was a kind of visual translation from reality to game world that required more leaps in faith than is required today.
Toward the end of the Atari Era, there were competitors, the biggest being Intellivision. This was the beginning for me of the curious phenomenon known as "brand loyalty." What did I care that my friend Mark had that system instead of an Atari? Why did I care that their commercials were making fun of my beloved Atari? Why did I feel emotional about this thing? Why did I feel like I had to protect it? Oh, I have theories that could fill books, but I won't get into that here. But the important thing is, E.T.
Yes, E.T. As in "The Extra Terrestrial." As in the game that killed the Atari 2600 and gaming as I knew it for many years to come.
Flash forward about 8 years. In this time, many systems had come and gone (or were hanging on). I missed all of them. I got to play some SNES after it had lost its wow factor for many years, because one of my college roommates brought his from home and had about 3 games. Two of which came with the system. We got on a renting jag for a while and I beat Abadox in a day.
About this same time, we discovered there were these text adventure games out there easy to acquire. These we played on someone's old discarded Apple (with monochromatic CRT and clanky, echo-y keyboard). This didn't last long. PC's started entering my parents' houses. They brought games with them. But at this point, they were just text adventures in color.
Then came the revolution: While visiting a friend at work, I was sat in front of a computer. On the screen were a Nazi, a German Shepherd and a gun pointing at them. My hands touched the keyboard and the next thing I knew, I had completed a level and wanting more. The era of the PC had swept me up just that easily and I was hooked.
Not until about two years ago did I finally take it upon myself to use some tax money to acquire an Xbox 360. I love it and everything’s amazing, blah, blah, blah.
But here I am: A guy who genuinely thinks of himself as "a gamer." While I am not always as skilled as those little brats who trounce me in multiplayer matches, I was indoctrinated in the Digital Blood of Bushnell. I was there when it happened. I saw the origins of what became a multi-mega-million dollar industry. I am here now, soaking it all in. (Or as much as my meager paycheck will allow.) But, I have a gap. A truly HUGE gap that includes all Sega systems and Nintendo systems but the Wii (which we acquired before the Xbox 360, because the wife wanted it), all of which are so dear to the hearts of so many my age who were able to stick with it.
As such, I find it hard to relate to the experiences related on the Giant Bombcast (and others). And I wonder if I really do deserve to think of myself as one of the fold.