The Game that Started It All… (for me at least)

First of all, I have to remedy something from my last post, which is giving a HUGE shout out to my friend Mike. He’s the one that gently suggested to our lovable group of geeks that we all had to read Ready Player One. So far I’m the only one who listened to him. Good looking out Mike!

As I’ve been readying my poor thumbs and wrists for the onslaught of new games that will be hitting me in the face this fall, I’m reminded of the excitement I used to feel as a kid when I got my hands on some new jewel of nerdy goodness. I suppose we all have those things, even now, that we look forward to with that same kind of glee. One of my good geek friends dropped off the face of the planet for at least a week when Skyrim came out. I’ve been contemplating taking the day off when Mists of Pandaria comes out next week.  But my thrill of getting to play some long-awaited game or finally seeing that epic movie (ahem, Hobbit!) really just doesn’t compare to the day that my younger self bought The Adventures of Lolo.

Now understand this: growing up I didn’t have a whole lot, and my mom worked really hard to make sure I went to a good school, was able to go to dance lessons and so forth. We lived with my grandparents, and as a kid I used to play on my mom’s old Atari 2600 on a black and white TV. I had never envisioned video games in color before. The NES came out in 1985/86, but I wasn’t aware of it and didn’t dream of owning one until close to 1989. And that dream was led not by the beloved Mario, but by a little blue ball of cuddle named Lolo. I must have seen a commercial for the game. Or maybe I spotted it in Toys R Us and read that it was a puzzle game. All I knew was that Lolo must be mine. I begged my mom for a Nintendo for Christmas. Even begged my dad, who was worse off than us at the time. I’m sure my mom would have loved to get me one, but instead she decided to use the NES as a way to teach me about saving. I could buy it, if I used my own money. So I started saving every dollar and quarter I could get my hands on. I milked the Tooth Fairy (yeah I was still losing baby teeth, lost the last one as a freshman in high school), and saved all my birthday money. In the summer of 1989 I had saved $70 out of the $100 I needed for the NES, not even close to having the extra I would need to get Lolo as well. I thought I would never save all the money I needed.

That summer I had to get some shots. God I HATE shots. Even to this day. They SUCK. The thought of getting a needle at the doctor’s would incite nightmares in me the night before, every time, without fail. I would dream that the nurse would staple my clothing to me. Don’t ask where I got that association from, I’m kind of scared of staples too. Anyway, this time around at the doctor’s office, I took those shots like a champ, and didn’t cry or complain. I remember so clearly how proud my mom was of me, and how I felt when I figured out that we were driving to Toys R Us from the doctor’s. She gave me the rest of the money I needed for my Nintendo, and bought me Lolo to boot. That blue ball of awesome was officially mine! And in return, I tried to teach her how to play. She sucked 🙂

Recently I played Lolo on a NES emulator, and wouldn’t you know, it still holds that same magic over me. I can still remember many of the puzzles, where to push those stupid blocks to protect myself from the Medusas, still jumping when I would accidentally get killed, humming along with the catchy music. It is really the game that made me a gamer, and I am proud of that.

So I want to know, my treasured few readers: what game do you remember being the start of your gaming obsession? It doesn’t have to be a video game, though mine certainly was. I want to know!

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3 Comments

  1. First game for me that started it all, Metroid on NES. My family was always low income and I didn’t have a game system of my own until SNES was already out for a few years, so my gaming experiences were always at a friends house. NES had been out a while and the first game I got to play was Metroid. I spent a lot of time at a friends playing that. Then the gleaming metallic gold cartridge of Zelda was made aware to me and was like the holy grail of games. It’s still fun and freakin hard on higher level dungeons!

  2. The first game that cemented my love for video games is, believe it or not, E.T. for Atari 2600. I had played games before that, but when I solved that game and actually got the spaceship to land and pick up E.T., I was forever hooked on strategy/RPGs.

  3. For me, there was never just one game. My gaming obsession began when the local mall got it’s very own arcade. Stepping through that door for the first time was akin to visiting another world and from that moment on was a sensation I have attempted to relive time and again with other gaming endeavors. The outside was cleverly designed with a rocky aesthetic and dubbed the ‘Goldmine’, the sign for which hung above the door in large gaudy, golden letters and is still emblazoned in my mine to this day. That dimly lit room, filled with flashing lights and electronically produced sounds became my haven, a place where the outside world had no bearing, and the stresses of being a child and trying to fit in didn’t matter. I was just another guy with a pocket full of tokens looking for his next moment to shine… In way of a first place score that is, and a chance to punch in those three uppercase letters to show who was responsible for that instance of glory. I never use my initials… it was always DOC for me and don’t ask why, because I’m really not sure how I came up with it. Maybe is was from Ol’Doc Brown from ‘Back to the Future’, who knows? Huh, I guess in some ways that was my first gamers tag. Maybe in my own future I’ll change my existing tag to Ol’Doc Natty. lol …yeah, nope.


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