#NBI2016 – A Gamer is Born

This blog post is in response to the weekly NBI 2016 writing prompt.

pacman-e1408711855384 Growing up in the 80s, I didn’t have a cell phone or PC or game console. Those things either didn’t exist or didn’t exist in the capacity they do now.

My parents weren’t gamers, obviously, and they still don’t quite understand my draw to these things. So becoming a gamer, and my earliest memories of gaming, were all a childhood discovery for me. I think that was a great way to do it.

A few years ago, I wrote about how my earliest gaming memories revolved around a hand-held Pac-Man game that I inherited from cousin. Sadly, it required a constant flow of batteries to play, and my parents weren’t going to pony up that kind of stuff for silly game.

For many of my childhood years, we lived next door to family, including a cousin who always had the latest and greatest games. He was born disabled, and lived his whole life in a wheelchair. So, where he couldn’t do physical things most people can, he could do things quite well with his hands.

I remember all the model cars he made, and also remember him always giving permission to play games in his room when we came to visit. Looking back on it, he was quite tolerant of his two younger cousins (he was like 15 years older than I). But my sister and I were well behaved and never messed with his stuff — we were too into the games.

He started out with an Atari, which we inherited when he got the newest, coolest system of the time, the Nintendo. The Atari was the first game console we owned, and we played it quite a bit. Still, I was totally taken by the NES, especially the whole Super Mario Bros thing going on at the time.

We didn’t own our own NES until much, much later. It was almost at the end of the system’s life, once it dropped to a reasonable cost that non-gaming parents could swallow. We played a ton out of that NES. I still have it, in working order, and all of the carts from back then, which are also in working order. I took good care of my systems. 🙂

I remember when the SNES first came out. That summer, I scored my first serious babysitting job. I was watching three kids for 8 hours, 5 days a week. Looking back on it, that was a big job for a 14-year-old. But I did it just fine (I was a responsible kid) and I got paid something like $85 a week ( a steal for the parents and big money for me). This only lasted a few weeks (the family was in the process of moving), but I saved enough to buy the SNES, and had a great summer of playing Super Mario World after that.

Rental games were great back then – we had a place where we got games for $1 for 3 nights. My parents would always let us rent something when they picked out some movies. And that’s where I first discovered Final Fantasy IV (back then, called FFII). That was the game that changed my life.



This post is a part of the Newbie Blogger Initiative 2016. For more information check out these links:


  1. My parents never really understood gaming either. It was all fine and dandy that I did outside activities almost every day, but if I wanted to then sit down at a computer and play games for a couple of hours? Panic!

    Like you, I was introduced to videogames via outside sources – first at school on an Apple II in the library, and then in high school through friends and their Commodore64’s. I don’t think I played games at home until grade 10 or 11. And then it was just Links (the golf sim) because that was the only game my dad would allow.

    1. Oh, gosh! The Apple II at school was my first contact with a computer. I spent as much time as allowed learning to use it, code Turtle language, taught myself to type, and of course played games.

      Oregon Trail. Number Munchers. Odell Lake! I loved getting to school 30 mins early so I could play on the PC! 😀

      I never had a computer until college. Impossible to imagine life without them, now. But that’s how I grew up!

      1. Hah I can’t even remember the names of the Apple II games, all I know is that one was a platformer with a jungle or barbarian theme – lots of really bright greens and blues – and the other was one where you tried to design the fastest car body by putting it through wind tunnel tests.

        I keep hearing about Oregon Trail but I have never played it. I did play an early wilderness survival game which again, I can’t remember the name of it but I do recall that you kept meeting Native Americans who would challenge you to foot races and the only way you could beat the last one was if you’d found the pair of Nikes. 😀

        Good times.

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