Video games have always been a part of my life. For as long as I can remember, there has always been a computer or a console wherever I’ve lived, and in most cases, I was the one glued to it.
I always thought that the first game I played was Street Fighter on my Dad’s Commodore 64. But I would’ve been far too young to have played that before anything else.
In fact, the one that started me off and has me talking about games for the next 30 days is Disney’s Aladdin for the Sega Megadrive 2. There isn’t much interesting to say about the game itself, so instead, a story…
It was 1994, so I would’ve been 6 years old and the game itself was already a year old. About a week previous, my dad had won a little bit of money on the National Lottery, enough to buy a Sega Megadrive. All week he had told me that he would pick it up on the Friday after he finished work.
I hadn’t been so excited for anything. Although we did have the C64 that would soon be wearing out the cassette tapes the games came on thanks to my new found obsession, the only things I knew about video games came from my friend who bragged about having a NES. But by Friday evening, we would have a games console. And I couldn’t wait.
Suffice to say, when the time came, I’m glad we didn’t have any spare film for the family camcorder, otherwise my evening would’ve looked a bit like this:
We hooked everything up (also the first time I saw the back of a TV) and popped in the cartridge.
Me and my dad took each life in turn, running, jumping, swinging and sliding through the Arabian markets, collecting apples and avoiding the deadly town guards. We didn’t even manage to clear the first level before it was time for dinner. But getting there was all I wanted to do.
Then, horror. Both my parents had to go somewhere for the weekend, and so the absence of a baby-sitter and the presence of a 3 year old sister meant we all had to go. That meant I wouldn’t get another crack at the markets for 2 entire days! I went to bed sorely disappointed. We’d just got a new toy, and now I was being told I couldn’t play with it.
At the time, I didn’t really appreciate what my dad must have said to my mum, and the trouble he must have gotten into, but Saturday morning came, and with a glum face, I prepared myself for a weekend away from my new love (forgive the drama, I was only 6).
Then my dad says he doesn’t feel well. He’s going to need to stay home, and of course needs someone to take care of him. Selflessly, he let’s my mum go away for the weekend electing me as his primary care giver. As soon as the door closes, he regains his health, and he said something about how, in return for this, I had to do all of the washing-up for a week. It didn’t matter. All that my 6 year old ears heard was, “Let’s do this.”
With that began one of my fondest childhood memories. A weekend spent, just me and my dad, eating Chinese take-away, taking it turns to relive the adventures of Aladdin and the Genie. People speak of those formative paternal moments that colour your life, like going fishing for the first time, or being taken to your first sports game. This was mine, and its something that I remember every time I go to my parents house 18 years later and eat Chinese food from that same restaurant, or whenever me and my dad take alternating lives playing today’s games.
We didn’t finish Aladdin that weekend. I don’t think we ever did. It doesn’t matter though. After that weekend, we were hooked. We were gamers.