Bear with me, it’s a bit of a story.
If I asked you what were the first video games you have played, I guess most would answer that it was on a game console. Although it would vary depending on your age of course. I did not have that luck. But it was awesome, regardless!
For a Frenchman living in Brittany, my father was early into the personal computer in the late 70′ and early 80′. He was always craving for new DIY things. Exploring computers all by himself was just the next natural ting to do. He soon became, through his work, an actor in the educational field to bring personal computers and computer science programs to schools and kids. This is the main reason we had so many pieces of hardware around at my parent’s place; something totally outlandish in the countryside.
Although we had also programmable calcs (with reverse-polish 256 steps programs, like the HP33e), and even a few very old consoles, I consider it all started with a ZX81. The old type, with the flimsy memory module and the flat, a tad sticky, keyboard. I do not have much fond memories for this thing. It was cool to print stuff on thermal paper and type short programs though. I still remember the day I came back to school with the short answer to an assignment printed on that thing. It was in 1981.
Soon, we had an Apple IIe at home, coupled with a mighty modem (phone coupler with Appletel card). That beast cost a fortune as the time!
A few years later, the Apple IIe wasn’t needed anymore (we had a few more computers at home, like the TO7-70, MO5, Oric atmos) and I inherited it, as well as a 80 column printer, in my room. What a blast! That year, I started numerous fanzines and writing Sci-Fi short stories. Something that I only stopped long after entering college.
What else I did on Apple IIe? Gaming! I just recently tried to find a good emulator and was amazed by the quantity of software and games I could remember of. The first I have tried is Aztec. Probably the most unforgiving and punishing game I have tried. At the time, possibly the first rage quits I have ever experienced too.
Another one is of course the Bard’s tale. Which, at the time, was already very advanced and considered as an improvement of other dungeons crawlers and adventure games. Real RPGs were games played by humans around a table at that time. ^^ Among other games I have played litteraly for hours: Autobahn, Chess Master 2000, ChopLifter, Galaxians, Gorgon, Mummy’s Curse, Paperboy, Pirates, Pool of Radiance, Qbert.
When you make a living out of creating video games, you can wonder where the source of your taste or how you feel about specific game mechanics and interface resides. What is the origin? What made you experience things a certain way that is still pertinent today? Of course, there is nothing exceptional about this. After all, this is how education works, in a formal way or not. But what makes it special to me is that at the time, there was absolutely no curriculum. I was also pretty much alone in my countryside playing games. It was an adventure by itself discovering all of this.
All in all, a good afternoon spent in memory lane, playing very old games and reviving some good geeky moments.