In a remarkable testament to the enduring allure of video games, one retired engineer stands as one of the oldest gamers in the world. From the early days of interactive television games in the 1950s to the cutting-edge PS5, this gamer’s journey spans eight decades of gaming history.
A crayon on the screen: the birth of video gaming
In the early 1950s, before consoles and controllers, gaming took a unique form. The protagonist, then a young child, experienced “Winky Dink and You” on a black-and-white television. This groundbreaking game required players to draw directly on the screen with a crayon. The objective? To fill in the missing elements of the game world. However, the novelty quickly wore off due to the frustration of a young gamer failing to draw quickly enough.
Disappointment with early consoles
The Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console, was the next stop on this gamer’s journey. It featured games like Pong and Hockey but had a perplexing three-knob controller that proved virtually impossible to master. This early experience left much to be desired.
A multitude of consoles and disappointing controllers
The gamer’s journey continued with a list of gaming platforms, including the NES, Atari Jaguar, Genesis (Mega Drive in the UK), 3DO, Neo Geo, Commodore 128, Timex Sinclair 2068 (ZX Spectrum in the UK), Xbox, PlayStation 1 through 5, and the Atari 5200. Despite the fun games on many of these systems, the consistently frustrating controllers marred the experience. Notably, the Atari 5200’s analog stick was described as completely unplayable.
The gamer’s creativity with Commodore 128
The Commodore 128 brought a refreshing change. The gamer, equipped with a better controller, explored over 100 games and had some of their most memorable gaming experiences on this machine. It was an era where developers were pioneering new concepts, fostering creativity, and avoiding mere imitation.
Venturing into the world of PC gaming and MMOs
The gaming journey shifted towards PCs, marking an entry into the world of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs). Titles like Ultima Online, EverQuest 1 and 2, Asheron’s Call 1 and 2, Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot, World of Warcraft, and Star Wars Galaxies dominated this phase. The early days of Ultima Online, with veteran beta players wielding incredible advantages, left an indelible mark. The memory of large monster “trains” in EverQuest still evokes both laughter and trepidation.
Concerns for the future of gaming
The gamer expresses concern over the acquisition of game developer studios by industry giants like Sony and Microsoft. They fear that this trend may lead to homogenization and a lack of creative spark in the industry. For real gamers, there’s a thrill of stepping into the unknown, something that characterized the early days of gaming on the Commodore 128.
In a world where gaming has transformed from crayons on a TV screen to cutting-edge consoles and immersive online worlds, this retired engineer’s journey through eight decades of gaming is a testament to the enduring appeal of video games. Their experiences, from early disappointments to moments of gaming brilliance, offer a unique perspective on the evolution of an industry that continues to captivate audiences worldwide.