I often find myself contemplating my love of gaming. Not that I don’t enjoy it, or that I am ashamed of it, but that I am interested in my personal connection with video games. How did I get here? When did I fall in love with games? Why do I love gaming so much? As I ponder on these thoughts, I decided that I should explore my memories and record them to reminisce on the reasons video games mean so much to me.
I have had countless conversations with gamers about why they love games. When I ask someone what game made them fall in love with video games, the responses I get are fascinating. Not that I am fascinated by the game they mention, but by the passion in which they describe it. Ask anyone what their favorite game is, and they’ll tell you a title. Ask them when they fell in love, they’ll tell you a story.
This mini-series of articles will serve as my particular story. They include some of my favorite memories, some great, some not so much. The goal of these pieces is not to entertain the reader. There is plenty of content on FRONTBURNR that will do that. I want people, as they read, to really reminisce about their favorite memories. I want you to share and explore similar feelings and experiences to really dive into why you love video games. This isn’t a simple, “I like games, they are fun” type of response I am looking for – of course they’re fun, they’re games. As people read this series, I want them to join me on a memorable journey of their own history of gaming. With that being said, my journey in gaming begins with a boy and a Tandy 1000.
Opening Credits: The Tandy Years
The first time I can ever recall actually playing video games was on a Tandy 1000 Personal Computer (I cannot remember which specific model). The computer used to sit in the dining room, sandwiched between an outer wall and our blue cloth couch. There, I would insert floppy disks and issue DOS prompts to launch some of my very first titles. I have many fond memories of this platform, as it was the stepping stone into my personal world of gaming. I have one memory in particular that I wouldn’t quite say I am too “fond” of. In this particular memory, there was a specific game that got me in a bit of trouble. I was very young, and the game in question (I since forget the name), was a fashion design simulator that required you to dress a fully nude woman (after much debate with my older sister, the actual specifics of why the woman was nude vary by a large degree. She thinks you removed the clothes purposely to reveal the good stuff, not exactly how I remember it). The digital model was more or less an outline of a nude female complete with nipples. Well, I had seen my sister play this particular game, and one day I issued the prompt. There she was, in all her virtual glory, the first nude woman I would ever lay eyes on (that I can remember). Well, the coming of age experience was cut short by my mother screaming and ripping her youngest of three children from the horrors of pixelated pornography.
I have wonderfully vivid memories of the Tandy 1000 PC. After my mother moved the computer into a large walk-in style closet that my father had helped convert into an office so my mother could work in peace, my gaming continued in a small, enclosed space where I could be completely alone with my gaming (not the naked lady one either, I promise). I can still recall some of the DOS prompts, and remember the feel of the loose joystick (we had two, one of which was slightly “broken”).
I would spend hours in that little closet/office playing Zaxxon, Castle Adventure, Ghostbusters, The Black Cauldron, Top Gun, Bouncing Babies, Thexder, Star Gate and Frogger. My personal favorites were The Black Cauldron and Castle Adventure, both of which I can never remember beating. At the time, they seemed incredibly hard to complete, and I have personally never had the chance to go replay those games and beat them to completion, thus leaving an empty space in my soul that has yet to be filled. I can remember Castle Adventure being tough to comprehend at the time; I must have been around five or so. Trying to maneuver, collect items, and issue written commands to escape a castle that housed nearly 100 rooms wasn’t really melding well with a young me. The Black Cauldron was particularly interesting because at my tender young age the game featured some pretty spooky environments, possibly igniting my passion for the creepiness of the survival horror genre. Top Gun was unusually hard, as the game included some pretty advanced piloting controls for my age. Zaxxon, Star Gate and Thexder were some of my go to games that I could really excel at, as I understood their controls on a more youthfully comprehensible level.
Frogger was always my mother’s favorite game. If I ever caught her playing games on the Tandy instead of using it for its word processing program, it was always Frogger. If by some chance it wasn’t Frogger she was getting frustrated with, it was most definitely Bouncing Babies. Bouncing Babies always confused me. Why were there so many babies, and why aren’t those two guys just carefully catching them? And where in the hell is the flippin’ fire department!?
My sister revealed to me that Star Gate had always been her favorite title (she even insists that we buy Tandy computers now). She remembers the naked lady game. My brother was older than my sister and myself, so when he played, he always chose the more difficult, adult games. Top Gun was the game I remember seeing him play the most, although he hasn’t declared which of his games was his favorite. He also completely denies ever having known about any type of naked lady game. I call bullshit.
I enjoyed my humble beginnings on the Tandy 1000. There were a lot of fun games, great memories, and I saw some pixelated breasts, but most of all, the blazing, white hot passion for gaming, that I would discover later, had started with a single, wisp of a spark. I am forever grateful for our Tandy 1000, and the uncontrollable fire that it helped ignite.
The future of this series will play host to many of my gaming memories through my history. Next, I will unveil my first home console experience with the Nintendo Entertainment System. Part of what makes this journey so interesting to me, isn’t just that it is about me. I love sharing these stories with anyone, and I especially love hearing them from others.