This is a somewhat odd post for me. I play games, I share my thoughts – that’s pretty much what this blog has become. It’s like a diary with video game pictures that other people get to come and see. I write reviews, I talk about current gaming events and sometimes I touch on older games. And let’s face it – I’ve played a lot of older games. I’ve talked about my TI 99/4a – the first system I owned. It was not the first system I played. That would be an Atari 2600.
Why am I blathering about all this right now? Well, for one – I figured you could all use a break from Mass Effect articles, which have taken over my blog with Reaper-like effectiveness. Secondly? Well, this might be a slightly closer look into me and my start in video games – you’ve been warned.
But primarily it is because my grandpa owned this system, and he would pull it out for me every time I came to visit. I don’t think it was ever hooked up more than a couple of times when I came over – so I don’t think he played it much or ever got it for himself but for the grand kids. Of those grand kids? I definitely played that thing the most. Probably my favorite game was Pitfall.
Not sure what it was about this game, but it was the one I played the most once he bought it. He hunted, and my cousins picked up on that. He coached baseball and umpired it as well, and that was never a sport I really got into either. He was always very easy-going though and never tried to force me to pick up his hobbies. While my cousins gravitated toward hunting and baseball and away from video games, my grandpa was quick to realize where my interests were at. He never gave me a hard time about it and he would sit and talk to me while I was playing, even though it couldn’t have been all that much fun for him to sit and watch as I played.
The TI 99/4a was a great present – it taught me how to program in BASIC and I got to play a lot of games I came to really enjoy over the years. However, most of their games were knockoffs of others (like Munchman instead of Pac-man and TI Invaders instead of Space Invaders) and without a doubt many of the best Atari titles were still better than these games. So when Atari/Nintendo began to make games for the console, my grandpa picked me a few up – the most heavily played of which was Donkey Kong.
I think it’s safe to say that video games played a big part in my life. Some would argue that it was perhaps not a healthy part of my life, but the hobby gave me a creative outlet over the years, and eventually got me interested in sports (both basketball and football – which i never showed any real interest in until I started to play the video games).
And then over the years it shaped my writing, I stayed out of trouble unlike a lot of other kids I knew in high school. I wound up learning how to program because of my interest in video games, and a desire to make my own. I fell a bit short of that mark, but I think it’s pretty easy to connect some of those dots from the little kid playing Pitfall and Donkey Kong to managing a support department for a successful software company.
The reason I’m writing about all of this? Well, my grandfather passed away last week, and while I have tons of good memories of him, these are the ones best-suited to this online blog of mine. I’m not looking for sympathy or anything of that nature, and I have tons of other memories with him that have nothing to do with video games. But this was one of the areas that I have been reflecting on this last week – and one I thought I would share. People affect us and alter the course of our lives all of the time and in so many ways both big and small, and I just thought I would go ahead and touch on one of those smaller points now and share it with anyone else who might want to read it. I think about the time I spend with my kids whether we are taking a walk, talking about books or playing games together – but hopefully they’ll look back and smile on some of those moments fondly when they are a bit older too.