This post is part of the Newbie Blogger Initiative and the third Talkback Challenge asking “What made you a gamer?” When I saw this question, I knew I had to join in and talk about how I got to where I am today now (gaming-wise, of course).
Many years ago (I felt like saying “Once upon a time” here…), my brother, who is 6 years older than me, had bought a Commodore 64. I don’t remember when exactly we started, but I do know that our parents, my brother and I sat in front of the C64 playing the olympic winter games together. The video below lists 1985 as the release date, but I know we played it a few years later. I was still too young in 1985 to be playing computer games and know what I was doing. :p But I was young enough to not be able to successfully play against my family. We still always had lots of fun and me being the last was not an issue. Instead, my family always told me and showed me how I had improved over the time and how I had gotten closer to their scores.
Not that long after, my brother decided to buy an Amiga and sold the C64 to me (yes, we were that kind of siblings where giving something to the other for free was out of question ^^).
(Sorry, the video is in German – but you can still watch the awesome graphics and listen to the amazing sounds of the game!)
I also remember my brother playing “Airline” and explaining to me what he was doing. “Now I buy another plane, then I decide for a route that this plane should take… long distance is not available yet, I will need a bigger plane for that. I will have to hire a pilot, …”. I sat there nodding, eagerly taking in everything he said and then, excitedly, I asked: “So, when do we get to fly that plane? :D” and he looked at me kind of baffled and replied: “Fly? Nonono. This is not such a simulation game. We will not get to fly in that plane. We are the airline manager and we…” and he went on and on to explain the concept of this kind of game to me while my face had gotten very long and I asked, hoping he would say something differently: “So, we will never see this plane take off into the air?” To his defence, he had been incredibly patient with me trying to explain to me why this kind of game was so awesome and so much fun and how adding a flight simulator would destroy this kind of game. I still sat there and watched him play. I slowly learned what to do when and how. And when that C64 was finally mine, Airplane turned out to be my favourite game. I also clearly remember one afternoon where I sat in front of my C64 with a friend and I had been explaining the game to her when she interrupted and asked: “So, when do we get to fly this plane?” – I looked at her, baffled, and replied: “Fly? Nonono. This is not such a simulation game…” Only that I had been less lucky with her than my brother had been with me and she asked to play something differently. We turned off the C64 and went outside, I think.
I don’t remember exactly which games my brother and I had been playing on the C64 and the Amiga… but I do remember that we played Bubble Bobble and Double Dragon together. I think that was on his Amiga. Now, my brother and I never got along too well and we used to fight quite often. But we never did so when we were playing those games together. On the contrary, our mum even had to call us several times for lunch as we were still fighting against NPCs in Double Dragon and had had no intention of leaving to eat.
At some point, the C64 had not been able to hold my attention anymore. I never got any new games for it (wise decision, dad… ^^). My brother had also started to be interested more in music and going out with his friends. But then, the new kid in town arrived, the Gameboy! A friend of mine had owned one and had shown it to me. Of course, I wanted one! I had to have one! It took quite a lot of convincing my dad to finally be allowed to buy one! And guess what happened next? Especially when we were on a vacation (which happened right after I had bought my Gameboy) and whenever we went to a restaurant, I could say “bye-bye” to my Gameboy as my very own father had tried to make absolutely sure that nobody would ever beat his high score in Tetris. My mum got close and managed to beat him, but he soon changed that and got an even higher score than before. Me? Well, I liked watching them play, at least. As a side note, my dad still owns the little orange Donkey Kong game and Pacman. Both also still work!
Since I never had that much money, I only bought a few games for the Gameboy and then lost interest again at some point. Years later, my dad brought home a PC with… I think Windows 95 on it. I used it for school, but not for gaming. It took a few more years and another friend to show me The Sims (the first one). I had also then bought “Cultures” as I had seen the game in a shop for a cheap price and I had figured that the PC we had would be able to play it. Thankfully, it did! Also, let’s not forget Sim City 2000. I was hooked! And I used to chat with friends who also played that game about our cities, what had happened in them, how we had built them and so on.
In February 2005, bookahnerk had gotten World of Warcraft when it had released here in Europe. In December 2005, he bought a copy of the game for me, so I could play with him. And that, my dear readers, is when I became a gamer. – Yes, you read that correctly. This is the moment where I started calling myself a gamer. Not at any other point before that. Nope.
I realized this when I had seen the topic for this week’s “Talkback Challenge” and I think it is weird and possibly also silly. I have actually been gaming all through my life. It has never been the dominant hobby taking over all other interests in my life, but it has always been there. I have fond memories of me and my family being gamers together – and yet, I never thought about us as being “gamers”.
A year ago or so, I was talking to my mum about computer games and then said to her: “Mum, you’re a gamer, too!” You should have seen the confused look on her face. I asked her: “Tell me, what were you doing before I started talking to you just now? In fact, what are you doing while I am talking to you?” “Playing a game…” (It had been Bookworm, I think) – “HA!”, I replied… and she started to laugh with me and said: “I never looked at it this way, but you’re right. I am playing a computer game. I am a gamer.”
It is really this simple, isn’t it? It doesn’t have to be “serious games”. You don’t have to be a “hardcore player” or anything. If you like video games and play them once in a while, then you are a gamer. For me, it’s a fun nice little pastime, especially when I can spend that time with my friends and loved ones and I take that over watching a film any time. Probably because my gamer parents showed me how enjoyable spending time together like this can be!