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Friday question: What were your first ever games?

Date
Greenhouse may not have been the coolest Game & Watch title, it was DexX's childhood favourite.

Greenhouse may not have been the coolest Game & Watch title, it was DexX's childhood favourite.

Let's take a walk down memory lane, readers. Can you remember your first game?

I've played a lot of computer and video games in my life, but I have never been quite sure which would count as my first. It's hard to sort a clear chronology from all those glittering shards of childhood memory, so working out which one was the earliest is going to be a bit of a fuzzy exercise.

I suspect that the first games I ever played were early arcade machines in the late 1970s and early 1980s, though I'd be hard pressed to nail down an exact title. I know I played some monochrome games. While I never played Pong (not until the Game On exhibition at ACMI, at least) I did play an odd little game called Gunfight, created by the same designer who went on to make Space Invaders. I can remember nagging my brother for 20 cents so I could have a try, during a trip to Sydney with my family.

It had weird controls. You would move your cowboy with a traditional joystick, but would aim your gun with a rotating knob, like the channel-changing knob on an old TV, and fire by pushing the knob in. In retrospect, it can't have been my first game, because even though I was only six or seven years old, I remember thinking that the knob controller was strange.

I can clearly remember that my favourite coin-op game during that early part of my childhood was Frogger. At the time games like Galaxian and Pac-Man were cooler, but I loved that Frogger was so different from all of the other games in the arcade.

All of these were occasional indulgences, though - I never had much pocket money, so I could never play regularly and get good at any of these games. For that, a home gaming system was needed, and there was no way my parents could afford one. I would watch the TV ads for the Atari 2600 with a deep, almost painful longing.

My cousin Stephen and my primary school friend Adrian both had Ataris, and I played on them when I could. that was how I was exposed to the unforgiving brutality of Pitfall and the proto-adventure gaming of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I can still remember the first game I ever clocked - does anyone still use that term, clocking? Some friends who lived close by got three little devices that would really change my life: Nintendo Game & Watch double-screen games. Donkey Kong was the most popular with my friends, and Oil Panic was also popular. Neither of them really liked Greenhouse, though, so that's the one I concentrated on.

It seems so rudimentary now, but running around in a greenhouse, puffing insecticide to keep grubs and spiders off my plants was mesmerising, hypnotic. All of those original Game & Watch units only had three digit scoring, so if you topped 999 points, the game would stop, flashing the score. I got to 997 on Oil Panic, and 998 on Donkey Kong, but Greenhouse was the only one I ever got that flashing 999, which came with a sense of triumph I can still remember today. Yes, I bragged about it at school the next day. (As I recall, nobody was impressed.)

I wouldn't actually get my own gaming machine (aside from the simple LED Pac-Man machine I got one Christmas - I clocked that too) until my parents decided my siblings and I needed a computer for school, and I talked them into an Amiga 500. Damn, I loved that machine. Dungeon Master on the Amiga was the first game I ever played until dawn. I was supposed to be doing a school assignment at the time.

But enough of my reminiscences; I want to hear yours. Can you remember the first game you ever played? How about the first one you ever beat? (Or clocked, if you will.) Can you remember which game was your first addiction or obsession? Please share your memories in the comments below.

 - James "DexX" Dominguez

twitter Screen Play is on Twitter: @jamesjdominguez

26 comments so far

  • For a pc Loderunner on the Apple IIiC, for a console Alex Kidd in Miracle World on the Sega Master System. Both I remember as being far more brutally difficult than todays games.

    Commenter
    Dave B
    Date and time
    January 24, 2014, 8:32AM
    • My brother and I had one of the Game & Watch games as well when we were kids, the Donkey Kong one. I got pretty good at that. We also had all the top ten spots on the Star Wars coin-op game down at the local 7-11 when we lived in the US. That was the one where you do the canyon run on the Death Star and have to get the missile in the tiny port. I also had about five of the top ten spots on the coin-op version of Q-Bert.

      We also had a C64 at the time at home and used to type in our own games from various magazines Dad used to buy for us. We also used to play Space Invaders from a cartridge on the C64 and Ghostbusters and James Bond from cassette tapes. I may be misremembering but I'm pretty sure the first game we ever had on floppy disc (5 1/4" floppy disc, no less!) was Elite and I loved the hell out of that game.

      The first "modern" game I ever played was Baldur's Gate and I picked it up because I was a big fan of the D&D books that I think every young RPG nerd reads. The Dragonlance series. I can recall having a very teenage crush on Raistlin Majere. Therefore I had to buy and play Baldur's Gate because it was the closest I was going to get to that world. And I haven't looked back from there so never let it be said teenage crushes on fictional characters aren't worthwhile!

      Commenter
      Kit
      Date and time
      January 24, 2014, 8:34AM
      • My parents had a pong type clone, so that would be the first game I played. There were VIC20s at school, and we played games on them, but I can't remember what those games were.

        The first game I ever clocked was the Octopus Game and Watch one (can't even remember the name), I got close, but never successfully clocked the parachute one.

        Commenter
        Rebecca
        Location
        At a desk somewhere
        Date and time
        January 24, 2014, 8:53AM
        • I'm a bit vague on which exactly was my first, but it was likely either Super Mario Bros or The Legend of Zelda. I could never finish the latter, and I distinctly remember my mum beating that. I cannot remember if I beat Super Mario Bros when I was that young or if I beat it when the Super Mario Bros All Stars came out for the SNES.

          I cannot remember the first game I beat, but I do remember that the first game I got 100% in was Super Mario World.

          Commenter
          Raito
          Date and time
          January 24, 2014, 8:57AM
          • A family friend had an Atari (my parents weren't down with computers or video games) & wanted to share some classics, so the first games I remember playing were Space Invaders & pacman.
            (Couple of weeks ago, I played both on arcade cabinet at the powerhouse museum's Game masters exhibition; which I can't recommend highly enough!)
            As far as first game ever beat, that's a trickier one, but I'm going to go with either Ocarina of Time or Pokemon blue (& I don't just mean beat the elite four; we're talking complete pokedex here!).

            Commenter
            Arran
            Date and time
            January 24, 2014, 9:06AM
            • I'll bite again on the reminiscing.

              Not sure if it was the first arcade machine I played but I distinctly remember going to the arcade in the mid 80's with my older brother and gravitating to Operation Wolf, a shooter with an uzi that you used to take out the enemy.

              I also used to play my friends Game & Watch Donkey Kong in the late '80's.

              Also around that time my Dad picked up an old Sheen Home Video Centre 2001 (Intellivision knock off) and used to play Golf and a Pac-man clone. The golf was surprisingly good.

              My gaming really took off when we got an AT PC in the late '80s or early '90s which came with a few games that I played to death including Arkanoid and Wizball.

              My first addiction in gaming came with Dungeons of Moria a Roguelike game that had absolute control of this developing teenager.

              I forgot how much I put into those early PC games.

              Commenter
              Knotpossible
              Date and time
              January 24, 2014, 9:13AM
              • Good gawd I remember Operation Wolf.

                Damn addictive on rails shooter. It was also one of the most unfair on rails shooters as well since there was no way in hell you could ever win that game on just one credit due to all the enemy spam! xD

                Commenter
                RocK_M
                Location
                I want chinese take-away!
                Date and time
                January 24, 2014, 11:50AM
              • I remember it being tough but then I was young and sucked at most of the arcade games despite that they still held my attention! Now I feel justified in how much I sucked :D

                Commenter
                Knotpossible
                Date and time
                January 24, 2014, 1:00PM
            • Pong on an old Hanimex machine. There were a few other games on the thing but no idea what they were. I remember the fun around the old crappy colour tv with the family and taking turns.

              We also got some of the nintendo pocket games: I had the fire/hospital game.

              Commenter
              Joka
              Date and time
              January 24, 2014, 9:16AM
              • Granny's Garden was both the first game I played and the first game I finished. It was on the computer in my grade 1 classroom. You had to rescue six children from a witch.

                Commenter
                Happyburger
                Location
                Melbourne
                Date and time
                January 24, 2014, 9:24AM

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