Format: Philips Videopac G7000 (Magnavox Odyessy²) Genre: Arcade Released: 1979 Developer: Philips (programmed by Ed Averett)
My first post and I’m in trouble. You see I wanted my first contribution to this blog to be about the first computer game I ever played. It would thematically make sense while also giving me some kind of focus so I would actually sit down and write a post. Why, maybe my last post could be about the last computer game I played? Yeah, that would be great! Well, presumably the last game I played up until that point, though perhaps by the time I finally finish the last post I would of finally grown out of playing computer games. Surely I’ve got become an adult soon, right?
Unfortunately I can’t remember the first game I ever played. You see, video games and me, we go way back. Four years before I was born ‘Pong’ had paddled its way into living rooms, pubs and chip shops across the world. I don’t ever remember a time before video games, I don’t remember being sat down and the concept explained to me. They were always there, like television, dogs, cars and parents. Do you remember the first dog you saw? The first television programme you watched? Well that’s the problem I have with computer games. They’ve been part of my life in someway for so long its hard to remember the specifics.
Which thinking about it might make this blog quite hard to do. Thank God Lewis is there to do most of the work.
So instead I’ve decided to write about what I guess to be one of the first games I ever played, and certainly the first to introduce me that sweetest of gaming emotions – beating a younger sibling in the two-player mode…
At some point in the early 80s my parents aquired a Philips Videopac G7000, also know as Magnavox Odyessy². The world’s first computer games console was of course 1972’s Magnavox Odyessy (I say of course though I only found this out when googling the Videopac). I say aquired as I really can’t imagine my parents actually buying a Videopac off their own backs. I have a vague memory that an uncle may of given it to us when his kids no longer wanted it. That or my Dad got it from a man in the pub.
Whatever, I don’t remember it arriving, it just seemed to always be there. It was kept in a big plastic bag on top of a wardrobe and whenever my brother or I wanted to play it we had to ask my Dad to get it down and set it up on the TV. Consequently we didn’t play on it that often and it was always a bit of a treat when we did. Kids these days with their Nintendo stations and their xwees, they don’t know they’re born, etc.
We had several games, but I only remember two – Laser War, a kind of space meteor type game (I may blog about it one day) and Gunfighter.
With Gunfighter you took control of, unsurprisingly, a Gunfighter in the old wild west. Each player was represented by about twelve sprites, with a couple of sprites representing the mandatory cowboy hat. You moved about the screen, firing your one sprite gun at your opponent and the one sprite bullet would drift across the screen, usually missing the other cowboy and bouncing off… things – not quite sure what they were, stones? Cacti?
It was simple, slow and would no doubt be incredibly boring if I played it now, but back then it was a little bit of magic. I still remember the sounds, the way the screen would change colour when someone was hit, the feel and click of the joystick.
This game was the first multiplayer game I ever played. I mostly played against my brother, who I remember often beating. Though seeing as I’m three and a half years older than him that’s not so impressive – my hand to eye coordination was a little bit more developed… That didn’t stop me lording it over him, showing off and generally being a horrible, boastful, little git. I played against my Dad as well. More often than not he won but I used sometimes beat him. I think it was the first thing that I beat my Dad at (lets brush over the fact that he was probably letting me win to be nice). Probably my earliest memories of beating anyone at anything – of victory – are of Gunfighter. I was a true twelve sprite cowboy.
My dominance of Gunfighter couldn’t last forever of course. My brother soon got the hang of it and started beating me, rubbing my nose in his every victory just as I had done to him. I seem to remember that led to sulking and lots of ‘Not playing anymore’ on my part.
So Gunfighter taught me that what comes around goes around – to be a gracious winner as there’s every chance that next time I’ll be the loser. To this day I try to follow this creed, especially as more often than not I tend to be on the losing side when playing games. Especially if I’m playing Lew.