They say you never forget your first time, and that’s certainly true for me. I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday. The sweaty palms, the anticipation, the barely controlled sense of excitement and finally, the ultimate satisfaction of finally doing the act itself.
I am, of course, talking about the first time I ever bought a computer game.
Imagine the scene: Christmas, 1983. A young boy opens his Christmas present to discover… a brand spanking new Commodore 64! The excitement…, the joy…, the slight sense of disappointment when I suddenly realised that my parents (who didn’t really understand computers at the time) had not bought me any games to play on it.
In fairness, that didn’t do much to dampen my enthusiasm for my wonderful new acquisition. I occupied myself over the Christmas period by typing in some listings in the manual and playing the 6 rubbish (BASIC) games that came free on the sampler tape. But still, I wanted more; I wanted to shoot things and make stuff explode!
As soon as the Christmas period ended and the shops re-opened (and remember, this was back in the early 80s, so under the arcane shopping laws at the time, this was probably around mid-February), I was off to town, clutching my Christmas money in my hands, determined to buy myself a game.
My mum deposited me at Boots the Chemist (which bizarrely used to be one of the best places in the UK to buy games). She promised to come back and collect me in half an hour, to give me time to consider my choice which (to me at least) seemed the most important decision I had ever been faced with.
I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I was alone in a software shop (well, a chemists, if we are being strictly accurate) and had a whole £5 to spend on any game I wanted (yes, kids, in those days, most games cost £4.95!). The responsibility was overwhelming. I wasn’t just choosing for myself, but also for my dad and sister (who technically had part shares in the Commodore, but happily for me, rarely asserted their rights!). I’m sure that my adult brain has rewritten history slightly, but to me the shelves seemed to stretch out for ever, full of cassette cases with brightly coloured covers that seemed to promise hours and hours of entertainment to anyone willing to invest in them.
To cut a long story short, I used every minute of my half hour, checking out the covers, reading the plot summaries in detail and finally narrowing it down to a few likely candidates. By the time my mum returned, I had made that all important decision. Clutching my five pound note firmly in one hand and my game of choice proudly in the other, I walked over up to the cash desk, handed them over to the cashier and bought my first ever game. I had walked into Boots a young boy; I was walking out a gamer,
And the title that occupies this important place in my personal gaming history? Well, you’ll just have to wait for the next post to find out! And cruelly, since I’m going away for a week and won’t have internet access for most of the time (the horror!), you’ll have to wait a whole week to find out.
I know, it’s just like watching 24, right?!
(feel free to have a guess at what the game might have been through the comments. No prizes, but a special mention in the next post to anyone who guesses correctly).