What Made You A Gamer?
Well I can’t actually remember the exact time that I started to play, its been for as long as I can remember – some of it is a bit hazy. Apparently I started on the Commodore 64, but we later sold that to replace it with the Commodore Amiga. It was my mum that originally influenced my interest in games. Apparently she was a Breakout champion at the pub, and so my dad treated her to a home system. I remember watching my mum and dad play games together and was drawn to have a go myself. I was hooked right away.
I still have incredibly fond memories of those early games. They included titles such as Space Invaders, Superfrog, Curse of Enchantia, Zool, Pushover, Chuck Rock, Fire And Ice and well… there were a fair few. My parents were members of this Amiga club, which meant that we could get our hands on a lot of new games; I still have some of those old magazines, heralding Theme Park for its graphical prowess. There was also a game shop at the nearby market and it use to feel like this magical place; Sometimes my parents would let me pick whatever I wanted and browsing over the artwork on the boxes was a lot of fun. The first game that I ever owned – bought for my birthday – was The Settlers. I think The Settlers influenced my gaming tastes for a quite a while as I use to play a lot of real-time strategy and sim type games. I also remember that I loved visiting my aunt’s house because they let me play on their Sega console.
One day my parents decided to drive us out to the shops and along the way they revealed that we were picking up a Playstation. I remember the first games we got with the console were Wipeout, Fade To Black and Alien Trilogy (which use to terrify us so my mum banned us from playing it.) My two favourite Playstation games were Crash Bandicoot and Tomb Raider. It was around this time that I also started to wonder how games were made. I began to design my own games and drew out new level designs – of course I didn’t know how to actually implement them. I think games fascinated me because of how they could transport us into another world. It seemed like an exciting prospect to a child. Tomb Raider in particular sparked my imagination because of how exciting some of the levels were at the time – being able to swim and vehicle sections seemed novel back then.
Eventually we got our first PC. This was a really exciting time for me as my cousins had already had one for a while and up until that point I had to make do with the few times we visited their place. Back then you couldn’t just pick up a PC and take it home the same day. We had to order it and wait for weeks – It took all my patience. When it finally arrived it came with a lot of its own software and games, including Theme Hospital and Magic Carpet. I had a lot of fun playing around with it and learning what I could do with it. Owning a PC also allowed me to eventually start learning how to make my own things, I started out with basic point and click games and also had a copy of The 3D Gamemaker. I was a lot older when I finally got around to writing my first programs, but it gave me a taster of game design.
I’ve continued to foster an interest in games since that point, long after the rest of my family seemed to move away from them. I’ve also gone through a few other consoles. I’ve mostly stuck to PC gaming and Playstation, but I also got an Xbox and Nintendo DS because I wanted to widen my horizons a little. I did at some point own a GameBoy colour, which we’d won for participating in this charity event for children; Only the games seemed really expensive for what they were so I never got very many (I do have fond memories of Crazy Castle though.) While I’m fairly open minded about what types of games I’ll play, I do think my early gaming experiences greatly influence my preferences.
As in answer to the question of ‘What made me a gamer?’ it was that they helped to spark the wonderment and imagination of a child, and from that point onwards I’ve continued to harbour fond memories of them and to make new ones too.