A reader celebrates being able to watch video games evolve over the last four decades, from the BBC Micro to PlayStation VR.
I have just turned 40 years old and was reflecting on how lucky I have been to have witnessed so many milestones in gaming history. My first gaming experience was when I was around six years old. My aunt was a teacher and brought her school computer home at weekends. She showed me a game called Chuckie Egg and that was it, I was hooked on gaming. I can’t imagine how many hours were spent playing but my young mind was blown away.
A few years later I got my first computer for Christmas: an Atari 800XL. I still remember watching the cassettes loading for 20 minutes, waiting excitedly for the next gaming experience. The only problem was when I was looking for new games it seemed all the good ones were for Commodore 64 or Sinclair Spectrum.
Fast forward another year or so and I awoke on Christmas Day to find a new C64 movie bundle with lightgun as a gift. Now I could play all the Ocean movie tie-in games and swap games with my school friends.
However, technology moves on and soon I was seeing Amiga and Atari ST games in the games magazines and they just looked amazing compared to my measly C64.
I asked my dad to get me an Amiga and one day he came home with a big box. Could it be? I opened it and my jaw dropped as inside was an Einstein computer with a load of discs. He had got it cheap off a mate and it was terrible. He did eventually get me an Atari ST but all the best conversions of games were on the Amiga, which I never got.
My sadness turned to joy when I learnt about the new 16-bit consoles coming out. I never had an 8-bit console and when I saw the Mega Drive I knew I had to have one.
In my town there was a games shop that sold imported games and one day after school my mum got me a Japanese Mega Drive. Again, my mind was blown by the graphics of the games and I eagerly waited until I was allowed another game, scouring the magazines to see what was coming soon. It was whilst reading C&VG magazine that I first saw the Super Famicom (what would be released in the West as the Super Nintendo or SNES).
My favourite arcade game at the time was Final Fight, and as soon as my local shop got a Super Famicom in stock I begged my mum to get me it. If I remember correctly it cost £450 but came with Super Mario World and Final Fight. I didn’t care that it wasn’t arcade perfect, it was good enough for me and I played it non-stop for weeks.
By now I was a teenager and the next few years were spent on my Mega Drive and Super Famicom, which were joined by a Mega CD, 32X, PC Engine and CD-ROM, a Game Boy, a Game Gear, and an Atari Lynx along the way. I was devoted to gaming and was lucky my mum bought me games regularly.
When I was 16 I started working at weekends and had some cash to buy my own stuff. My first major console purchase I funded myself was the PlayStation, and again the graphical leap was amazing. PlayStation turned to PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast, and hundreds of hours were spent playing Phantasy Star Online.
Then one day I stopped playing games, I was 24 I think. The reason? I got into drinking and women in a big way. I missed the GameCube, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 completely. Although I did pick up a N64 somewhere along the way and did still buy a Game Boy Advance and a DS, but never played anywhere near as much as I did before.
I got back into gaming in 2007 when my wife was pregnant. I bought a Wii and we would sit and play Zelda: Twilight Princess together and I would play during the night after our son was born and I was rocking him to try and get him back to sleep.
Now I had a son I bought him a second-hand Xbox 360 when he was five so he could play Minecraft. He became obsessed with it and I bought him a PS Vita to play it when we went out and then upgraded to a Xbox One last year. Since then I have bought a PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR, two Nintendo Switches, a New 3DS, and we have built up a collection of retro consoles.
I apologise for rambling but it has been enjoyable for me remembering how my life has revolved around gaming. Playing Farpoint on PlayStation VR the other day I am happy that I am in the position to appreciate how amazing it is, as I have played the most basic games in my childhood and slowly watched each generation improve graphically.
Young gamers today just expect good graphics as standard, but I have had to wait years to play the games they take for granted. I can’t wait to see what gaming will be like in another 40 years.
By reader MRHBK