Me and Gaming – The Early Years

The week 1 NBI writing prompt is about my story and how gaming shaped me. I’m not sure if gaming has shaped me but it has been a big part of my life as long as I can remember. I won’t give a full history of my story as it would be too long so I’ll just do the early years for now.

I was lucky that I grew up in a household where both my parents worked so they could afford to buy luxuries like computers unlike most of my friends.

My first computer was a Spectrum zx and a very thick manual explaining basic computer programming. I never got the hang of programming but if i remember rightly i could get my name (or various profanities) to repeatedly scroll down the screen.

I was hooked on the games straight away, I don’t know exactly what it was which got me hooked but its almost like a drug where once you start your addicted and I’ve never been able to stop. Even now after over 20 years I still get a buzz when I progress in a game, its a great feeling for example when you first down a boss in World of Warcraft after weeks of wiping or kill a legendary deathclaw in fallout 4 with a slither of health left and I’ve never known my heart to pump so fast as it did the first time I flew through 0.0 sec in Eve Online knowing I could get blown up at any time, especially as I was a total noob with a misfitted ship and no isk to replace it!

The spectrum was followed up by a BBC micro and one of my favorite games of all time – Elite. While the graphics seem basic looking back, at the time I think it was one of the first games to use a 3D effect. Being a young boy at the time it was a complicated game to play, it was my first taste of economics in a game with trading between star systems and having to make in game money to progress as well as managing fuel and planning my jumps carefully.

When I was about 8 I remember my school got a BBC micro computer and the only game it had was chucky egg. We were allowed to play on it at lunch and breaks but we had to take turns so game play was limited, the only other time we could play was if we finished our work and were waiting for the rest of the class to catch up. I quickly learned that if I put the effort into my school work in class I would be rewarded by playing games and I became very good at it quite often finishing ahead of everyone else just so I could play games more.

In the early 90s I got my first windows PC running windows 3.1, at the time it was a very expensive computer, it cost my dad more back then than i paid my current gaming PC, unfortunately for us he bought it just before there was a big breakthrough in computing and we ran into problems running games as we did not have enough memory to run the new games being created for faster computer’s. Luckily for me I had an uncle who worked with computers and he was able to create a boot up floppy disk which if i put it in before starting the PC it would not run windows and booted it to dos giving me enough memory to use dos to run my games.

At the start of this post I said i was not sure if gaming has shaped me but after writing about it I’ve realised that through gaming I have learned basic programming, economics, resource management, that hard work can be rewarding and that problems can be solved or have work arounds.
I’ve also realised that throughout my early years and even up to now, I’ve never had any formal computer training yet I currently work full time using computers analysing data. My ability with computers can be attributed to the knowledge I picked up in my early years of gaming.

I also met my wife at work and have 2 daughter’s so in a way, without being exposed to computers and gaming when I was younger, I’d never have had the ability to get a job working with computers and may never have met my wife.

Hopefully this gives a bit of insight into my early life and how gaming has shaped me and its not too boring to read!

-Sparko Marco


2 thoughts on “Me and Gaming – The Early Years

  1. Good call on Elite – a fantastic game which stole many hours of my youth! I didn’t play the game until I was around 11 by which time I had an Atari ST on which the graphics in Elite looked fantastic compared to the old BBC micro. The gameplay remained unchanged though and for good reason – it was flawless. I always remember my first purchase being a docking computer as I was hopeless at getting my ship through those rotating station docking bays. I blame that on the joystick I was using….a Cheetah(sp?) if you remember those! Far to responsive – the slightest nudge the wrong was certain death. Good times…


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