It was a simpler time...
It's been years. Console generations have come and gone, fads have died, and the constant flurry of new game releases looks better and better each day. We've played countless games over our lifetimes, often spending an embarrassing amount of time on our latest obsession. That's just the way things work.
But where did it all start? What was the game that led you down this path all those years ago? Was it a classic, or was it something more... humble? Let us know in the comments, and take a look at some of our own gaming memories from way back when.
Henry Gilbert's first game should be obvious
I can dig back in my memories to see some ColecoVision game my uncle owned or a Donkey Kong arcade machine at Mazzio's Pizza, but those are too fuzzy to count. So let's go to 1987 when I'm four or five. I go to play with one of the neighbor's kids, and her dad is playing Super Mario Bros. on his TV, which immediately grabs my attention. My mind is blown as it finally clicks in my head what exactly video games are: images on the TV that you can control. After playing a tiny bit I return home to start begging my parents for an NES, which I got for either my birthday or Christmas that year. After plugging in Super Mario Bros. (with bonus Duck Hunt for free?) I was hooked, as were my parents. They've dropped off since then, but I sure haven't.
Hollander Cooper's first game was also Super Mario Bros.
Unexciting? Maybe, but it's true. When I was young, my dad decided to buy me a Nintendo Entertainment System. Let me clarify--when I say "young," I mean, like, two. Essentially, he bought it for himself and play it in front of me. When he'd die he'd hand me the controller, let me run into the first Goomba, and then he'd take it back. That's my first experience with games: effectively being trolled by my dad, who wanted to play Mario so much he didn't bother teaching me how to jump.
Sophia Tong played with pixels
To this day, I'm not sure what my dad did at work. I know he worked for the Canadian government and it had something to do with computers. There were times when he needed to go in on the weekends and I'd go with him, mainly to play on his computer and eat sugar cubes. The only game he had on his computer at the time was Beast. There were no "graphics" or fancy sound, there wasn't even any color because back in my day I was playing on a monochromatic monitor so everything was yellow and black.
Anyway, in Beast you play this spaceship-looking thing who is trying to push blocks and squish a bunch of "H"s because they represented the beasts. They would move around and you used the arrow keys to move around. It was fairly basic, but it certainly passed the time.
Justin Towell popped his cherry
For nearly three decades, I didn't know what my first gaming moment was actually from. Then I saw it in a pub earlier this year on a retro collection cabinet. Mr Do. I remember it was at the end of an arcade room on holiday. It cost 10p a go--they were larger coins back then-- and I think my mum had to hold me up to play it. I was too small to play Hang On very well, but that was there too. I remember the cherries on Mr Do. Perfect gaming iconography.
Home console wise, it was a Commodore VIC-20 that my dad brought home, having bought it off someone at work. He asked me if I knew what it was. I said 'a typewriter?' and he said "nope, it's a computer!" So we hooked it up to the TV and played a car game called 'Initial Race'. Appropriate, really.
Lucas Sullivan was a child of the arcade
To be honest, this isn't the first game I ever played per se--but it is the first one I ever laid eyes on: the classic beat-'em-up Double Dragon. Not the NES version that everyone remembers, mind you--this was the original arcade cabinet, standing proudly in a Santa Monica bowling alley that probably isn't around anymore. I didn't quite grasp the concept of inserting a quarter to, y'know, actually control the onscreen action. But according to my parents, I was transfixed by this wondrous machine, wildly batting at the joystick and buttons. And, if this was a movie, the camera would've panned for a shocking reveal: right next to the Double Dragon cabinet was Street Fighter II Pinball, two more of my future loves.
Lorenzo Veloria joins the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt club
It probably isn't a big surprise that the first game that I ever played is one of the most popular titles of all time. As soon as I was old enough to pick up the NES controller, I was taking on King Koopa and trying free the mysterious princess--that was always in some other castle--in Super Mario Bros. That is, I think that was the first game I ever played. Chances are, my five-year-old self was more attracted to the bright orange Zapper pistol used to play Duck Hunt on the same cartridge. So I technically might have played that game first. There's really no way to know, but that would explain my deep, seething hatred for that freaking dog.
Andy Hartup was off to a flying start
The first thing I did once the giant, plastic shell of an Amstrad CPC-464 arrived in my home, back in 1985, was to load up Harrier Attack, a simple side-scrolling jet game where you had to bomb targets on the ground below. As I recall, the game--which came on cassette--took 3-4 minutes to load... and it was by far the fastest loading game I owned. Bombs fell diagonally when you tapped the spacebar, so you needed skill to strike your targets, and each run needed careful timing to make sure you didn't run out of fuel. The one 'trick' I remember about Harrier Attack is that you could bomb your own aircraft carrier at the start of the level. Pretty clever, haha. Except that meant you could never refuel, so you died pretty quickly. Of course I invited friends to play, and of course I took great delight in leaning over and mashing the spacebar when my friends were taking off, showering their aircraft carrier in pixelated bombs.
Tom Magrino shot some hoops
This is a 100% true story: The first game I ever played was Basketball for the Atari 2600. We had it hooked up inside our football-field sized barn (blue, faded and rusting). Also, I liked to be warm while I played so, winter or summer, I'd toss logs onto the wood-burning stove that was set up right next to the game console. I rarely wore shoes. Look, I'm from Ohio. Leave me alone.
Dave Muoio learned to read, the fun way!
My first gaming experience also happens to be my very first memory, and boy is it infantile. No doubt fueled by a parent's nurturing love, I got a headstart on gaming (and I guess basic literacy) with The Berenstain Bears Learn About Letters at the tender age of two. Traveling around Bear Country as Brother and Sister Bear, I tackled everything from fixing a broken ?ridge to befriending a misunderstood spider who only wanted me to recognize the letter W in his web. Looking back, that garbled mess of pixels is a bit disappointing, but I can't argue with the results.
Ryan Taljonick yada yada Super Mario Bros.
Like many of my peers born in the mid '80s, my first game, the one by which I learned video games existed, was Super Mario Bros. for the NES. I remember that day as clearly as if it occurred 22 years ago (which it did).
I was hanging out with a neighborhood friend at his place, and as boredom set in, he suggested we turn on a magical box attached to his television--and that's when I met Mario. I was immediately drawn in by games; I loved the challenge, the new worlds they presented--and at the time, not knowing you needed a console to play them, I happily suggested we take Mario over to my place and show my mom. You can imagine my disappointment upon discovering I couldn't just push the game's cartridge into my TV.
But what about you? What was the game that got you hooked? Give your earliest gaming memory a shout out in the comments below.
And if you're looking for more, check out Henry and Hollander in their new show, Super Smash Bros. Weekly.