Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Sun, 30 Nov 2008

Games I've played

On the BBC World Service Digital Planet pocast I heard about a project to create an archive of video games. That got me thinking about games I have played over the years. This means thinking back around 30 years and so I'm sure I've forgotten a few details.

I think that the first video games I encountered were the original arcade games starting with Pong and Space Invaders. Back then the graphics were black and white, but with some use of coloured films on the screen to make them look better. I spent a lot of time in the local arcades playing various games such as Pacman, Defender, Donkey Kong and others without ever becoming that good at them. I think they cost 10p a game back then and that soon gobbled up the pocket money. The one that I remember playing a lot when slightly older was the sit-in Star Wars with its great vector graphics and great sound as you attemted to blow up the Death Star. Since then I've played various arcade games. I quite like car and motorbike racing games, or a bit of mindless shooting.

At home we had some basic console with variants of Pong. I wonder what that cost back then. I probably lusted after wonders such as the Atari 2600. When I started upper school I got access to the local college mini via a terminal and acoustic coupler. There were some simple text-based games on there such as Lunar Lander and Artillery. A friend and I joined a local computer club and got to see all sorts of games on early home computers like the Commodore Pet, Tandy TRS80 and Atari 400/800.

When I was around 15 I saved up the £300 for a BBC Micro (Model A). I played many games on that, included some pirated at the computer club. I bought quite a few too such as the painfully slow, but graphically impressive Frak! and the wonderfully engrossing Elite. That consumed many hours of my youth trying to get to the higher ranks. Other games I remember are Chuckie Egg, Arcadians and some text adventures. I typed in various BASIC games from the magazines of the day, most of them disappointing. All this was using audio tape storage as a floppy drive was beyond my budget.

I didn't buy another computer for a long time after that, but had access to some PCs at work. At one job a colleage and I played a lot of Wing Commander. I think I encountered Lemmings there too. At a later job there were extensive Duke Nukem 3D death matches in the lunch hour.

Eventually I bought a second hand Amiga 500. On that and a later 1200 I played lots of games. Pinball Fantasies was fun. Alien Breed 3D was supposed to give you something like Doom, but had very basic graphics. Eventually I was able to play Doom when it became open source and clones were produced. By then my Amiga had a mighty 68040 chip with 128MB of memory and a 1.7GB hard drive.

Eventually I had to accept that the Amiga was a dying platform and bought a PC (350MHz PIII). The game I most played on that was Half Life under Windows 98.

Since I switched to Linux I have found less time for games. I have the odd burst of Frozen Bubble, Planet Penguin Racer or some form of Tetris. I've even had Doom clones running for some nostalgia and once got Half Life running on Wine, but didn't play very far. My play the non-violent games above and lots of on-line Flash games.

Last Xmas we got our Wii. That's something we can all play together and has given hours of fun, but tailed off recently. Perhaps some fresh games this Xmas will revive our playing.

I've never been the most active of gamers. I play for a bit of fun when I have nothing else to do. I'm way behind on the latest PC, arcade and console games. Most require too much commitment for me to even consider. No doubt my kids will demand better games as they get older and maybe I'll get to have a go with those.

[21:18] | [] | Comments | G
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