I swear I never meant it to be this way. I was young and innocent when I started. There was a little peer pressure but none that really swayed me until the first time I tried it. Damn, I was hooked! Things were moving and colors were flashing like I was running through life, only I wasn't. Hours later I awoke from my daze still sitting there. My eyes were bloodshot and my body ached as the call for motion arose. The tingling sensation of thousands of neurons firing in unison begged for me to remain stationary. What the hell had I gotten myself into?
At that point I knew I was addicted to video games.
I started off small with Pac Man. He was my gateway into arcade games. What a concept. A little yellow circle chasing ghosts, eating up dots, "power" pellets, and fruits and pretzels. A little odd but more than attractive to a young boy like myself. Then it got worse, Mrs. Pac Man came out. Just like the original only faster. You couldn't allow for the same distractions like in Pac Man. You had to concentrate as each level was faster and faster and the ghosts regenerated at higher and higher rates.
I died on level 16? No freakin way am I going out like that! Need more quarters, can do better.
Next to Pac Man was another little gem called Pole Position. You remember the simple game with a steering wheel, hi-lo gear switch and gas pedal. Brakes are for sissies. I'm not really sure why I let such an easy game get to me. It could have been that hot 8th grader who asked me to show her how it was done on that game. All that time practicing for naught when she went to high school and I went to 7th grade. Damnit.
Arcade games were the beginning but the hardcore stuff was only a game console away. My parents finally caved and bought me an Atari 2600. Surely this was as close to nirvana as a middle schooler could get at the time. Two joysticks with the magical orange button that hooked into the ever-impressive housing with 4 switches and a place for the game cartridge. Combat came with it and Dad even managed to bring in an old friend for me to play with...Pac Man. That's right! No more begging for tokens on friday nights. I had instant access to the game I started on. Pac Man brought Pitfall and Donkey Kong and several other friends into my life. They seemed harmless enough. Even my parents condoned it. Better sitting quietly in front of the TV than out getting lost in the woods. I thought I had a handle on the Atari. Not really any late nights in those days. The games were too easy and a 4-color palette can only hold your attention for so long. Unless you are talking pong.... the slow death.
The next few years saw consoles like the Atari 5200 and Coleco come and go that really didn't impress anybody other than the kids that had them. Back to the arcade until the day that magical plumber arrived with his little friend Nintendo. Yes, Super Mario was on the scene fighting Koopa and saving the princess with his plumbing prowess. Finally after a few hours and one marathon game Koopa took a dirt nap and the princess was all about me! What? Secret Levels you say? Damn right I found everyone (without the hint books!) by bouncing on nearly every part of the board. Hours I tell you that I will never get back. Mario didn't have anything on a little Elvin boy who was oddly enough, out to save a princess himself and reclaim the tri-force. Come on, you know who I'm talking about. Link starring in The Legend Of Zelda, one of my favorites. The first game that actually had me up late at night in my room and forced my parents to get another TV so they could have some sanity. It was beginning. Sleepless night wrapped up in dreams of throwing my boomerang and chopping through the enemy with my magic sword.
As all things do with time the Nintendo fell out of favor as the games were getting old and Dad seemed to think that what I had was plenty since back in his day he'd have been happy with just having shoes to play in. I needed more. Something else had to be out there. Sega Genesis? Nope. Sorry Sonic. Neo-geo? What good was that thing anyway? Time to move away from games I guess. Not so fast though. The video games were not done with me yet.
My first PC. It was an IBM 286 33MHz and my family and me had zero clue what to do with it. Luckily one of my friends was in the know and introduced me to the new video games that you could run on a PC. Off into space I went again with Roger Wilco and Stellar 7. I was performing operations in a doctor game and even learning a little about life from the all-knowing Leisure Suit Larry. I was firmly locked in once again.
College came and the PC became indispensable...just like the games. Everybody was doing it. People yelling up and down the hallways about this game or that one or who fragged who in the back. Cool! Can I try some of that? How do you do that? I'm not doing anything I'm in. The nights became day and vice versa as time blurred in a way that everything outside of the game was secondary. I wasn't doing it all the time but I was playing more than ever before. Nights and some weekends after I'd get home from going out, that was it. Not too much right?
Eventually the schoolwork became more important and time consuming than the games. After working on projects for hours and bathing in the glow of a monitor, adding to that time seemed less than inviting. I was finally free.
That was a lie of course. Corporations couldn’t leave well enough alone and brought out designer drugs like the Playstation 2 and the X-box. Right now I hear them calling me with their siren soundtracks and mockery as levels are left unfinished and high scores still out of reach (even though I’ve scored over 1,000,000 points of the first level of SSX Tricky I’m still not happy). I dream of the tricks I can pull off and ways to squeak out an extra thousand points here and there.
I’m sure this addiction will go away at some point. At least I hope. Until then though, I guess I’ll just try and fight it…after one more game.
Trey is one lazy bastard when it comes to writing. It's amazing he even got this much out before distraction set in.
ABOUT TREY ASKEW
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
9.25.02 @ 2:09p
Thanks alot for bringing back all the painful memories of wrestling you and Glen to stop with the damn games and let me have the TV at 711 Beaver Dam.
You, you... GAMER! I love ya!
9.25.02 @ 3:50p
I had an Intellivision growing up and it kicked the Atari's ass. I loved that thing.
Atari had more games, but the Intellivision's were way better.
Oh you young kids don't remember the black and while line drawing days of Battlezone, Tempest, Asteriods and Space Invaders...
9.25.02 @ 4:16p
I've got a shareware version of Tempest on my Mac. I'd love to have a copy of Battlezone -- for sure, one of my three favorite console video games...
9.25.02 @ 4:32p
You guys need to look at MAME. It's an arcade emulator and you can find all the old games like Spy Hunter and 1942.
9.25.02 @ 4:40p
1942 - I was a God at that game.
I tried the emulator thing before. On top of it crashing every 6.9 seconds, I found myself saying, "I can't believed that this was actually considered good graphics at any point in the history of the planet."
9.25.02 @ 4:43p
Yeah, I've tried MAME as well. Or some C64 emulators so I could play Impossible Mission again. The games were still fun, but the stability of the emulators sucked.
9.25.02 @ 4:44p
I haven't the slightest inkling what any of you are talking about.
But then again, I didn't even beat Super Mario Bros. The first one. But I kick ass in Tekken.
9.25.02 @ 4:53p
Damn, I just remembered that in the robbery awhile back those bastards took my gameboy with possibly the best game ever still in it. Alexy Pejitnov's masterpiece called Tetris. Talk about a time consumer!
9.25.02 @ 4:58p
Freshman year in college I skipped a midterm because I was in the middle of a Tetris game.
9.25.02 @ 5:33p
My freshman year I was down to, like, 103 seconds on MineSweeper.
My parents still have our Atari 2600 and - get this - Pong in their basement.
9.25.02 @ 5:37p
That was the first video game we ever had. Can't even remember the year. But it was the Telestar Ranger - with pong, tennis, soccer (all just variations of pong) and the skeet gun attachment.
9.25.02 @ 5:41p
We had the Odyssey 2000, which was pretty much the same...basketball, soccer (aka hockey), pong, tennis... you didn't have cartridges, you just slid a selector switch on the top. I didn't get "cartridge" games 'til I got my TI-99! Woo!
9.25.02 @ 9:18p
Matt, I loved the Intellivision Space Invaders games, but back in high school I ruled Qbert and this game called Pengo. Pengo, when I was 18, was in a local bar where my friends and I would spend many hours drinking and then many hours playing this game where you were a penguin pushing blocks of snow around to block or crush the evil Sno-Bees. I could play for hours on one quarter, but only when I was drunk. Sober I could barely control the joystick.
9.26.02 @ 10:10a
Tetris. God, I miss that game. I wasted hours on it. My other old favorites were the old Oregon Trail (not the new crappy one) and Tom Sawyer's Island (think pacman, but with Mark Twain characters). Oh, and the weird sci-fi game that always ended with me getting eaten by a monster.
9.26.02 @ 10:59a
Tetris. That's why I own a Gameboy.
9.26.02 @ 11:21a
That might actually be why I own a computer.
9.26.02 @ 11:22a
Oregon Trail was awesome. I finally figured out that if you just load up on meat and trudge through you can make it in the shortest amount of time. Granted, everyone else dies but hey, Darwinism at it's best!
9.26.02 @ 11:26a
Yeah. Besides, then you get the fun of reading their tombstones.
Erik, you own a Gameboy?
9.26.02 @ 1:33p
What was that damn lake game with the fish... all I remember was that one of the big ones was called a Dolly Varden. And there was a drilling-for-oil game we played in school.
My family's Atari 2600 was constantly tied up by my brother playing Asteroids, but on occasion I managed to sneak in a few games of Pitfall. I usually ran backwards, because it was easier to clear the alligators that way.
9.26.02 @ 2:13p
Erik, you own a Gameboy?
A Gameboy Color, no less. Actually, I really like Pokemon Pinball, too.
9.26.02 @ 5:03p
HEY! I'm just eighteen and I remember all of those games, I even had an Atari 2600! I loved playing this game where a guy escaped from prison and this cop (you) would follow him, that was the whole game. you'd have four stories and an elevator. the funniest thing i remember is that motherfucker ran fast. now if i could only remember the name of that game...
Heather, emulators are computer software that let you play arcade or atari games on ur pc or mac. they do the job, although some of them are crappy, like Matt said.
9.26.02 @ 5:54p
I used to love Bump n' Jump. And Frogger.
I also remember there was an Atari PacMan setting where you could be really fast and the ghosts really slow, so you could rack up insane scores. And each board was exactly the same.
9.27.02 @ 12:30p
My mom has a super nintendo that she plays Tetris and QBert on. We got her addicted when we were in high school, she's just like a kid when she plays. My favorite has always been Centipede.. one of the versions of Atari had it and they had the additional controller with the roller ball just like the arcade game.