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Games Entertainment

What Was Your First Gaming Experience? 718

Stephen Totilo, at the MTV Multiplayer blog, recently put up a piece that asked a number of notable games industry folks all about their first time gaming. Several had some unique answers, with Peter Molyneux (Black and White, Fable) probably taking the cake: "It would have to be the original Pong. I can clearly remember seeing it in a shop window on Guildford High Street and being utterly transfixed - I had never wanted anything so much - in fact I stole money from my grandmother's purse to buy it. I got it home, took it apart, and never got it to work again - but from that moment on I was hooked on all things to do with computer games." What was your first experience with gaming? d20s on a kitchen table? A Nintendo Entertainment System under the Christmas tree?
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What Was Your First Gaming Experience?

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  • Zork (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thunder_Princes ( 688516 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @01:49PM (#22052764)
    1978, MIT, Zork ~ yay for the DMG! I nearly failed out of school figuring out the carousel room. i had such an elaborate map. ZORK STILL RULZ! :)~
  • My first experience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrMrLordX ( 559371 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @01:49PM (#22052778)
    . . . was when I was three and my dad still liked going to arcades (games were simpler then, so he could still enjoy them). I would stand on a stool or box or whatever they had provided for kids to use to reach the controls on arcade machines and try playing PacMan, though I was only messing with the controls during the game's demo. Eventually I figured out that the game did something different if you put a quarter in it, so I'd beg quarters off my dad and then plunk them in, only to spend the entire game eating power pellets to turn the ghosts blue. It was a long time before I ever cleared the first stage.
  • Donkey Kong (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hellad ( 691810 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @01:52PM (#22052852)
    DK on the Colecovision. I wanted to play as the monkey. This was a great system to grow up on, ton of fun games and great graphics. The one thing that I seems so strange now is that we only played for an hour or two (tops) at a time! We still played outside. I wonder if that is because of the pickup and play nature of those games versus the new games which take 50 hours to complete and completely envelope the person...
  • C64 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @01:52PM (#22052862) Homepage
    A commodore 64, in which my dad was playing a wrestling game (I THINK it was called Bebop Wrestling, or something like that). He let me take control of the keyboard, and thus my obsession with gaming had begun (I was 4 at the time)
  • by Radius9999 ( 1220338 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @01:53PM (#22052900)
    I was probably the first kid to ever play a game on a computer. My father worked for IBM, and I played hangman. In those days there were no monitors, so every time you chose a letter it would print up the picture all over again.
  • by techpawn ( 969834 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @01:54PM (#22052908) Journal
    My first video game experience was NES playing super Mario brothers on the cartridge that had SMB/Duck Hunt/Track and Field. Before that it was various little kid board games but what really got me interested in games was my older brother teaching me chess.. To this day I still love the challenge of the game and a good match between him and I. Thinking moves ahead of the other players and trying to respond in your predictions where wrong. Other games that deserve mention:
    1)Online gaming: MUDs
    2)TTRPG: AD&D at a friends house playing a psyonic Dwarf... Badly...
  • Odyssey 2000 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @01:57PM (#22053010) Journal
    My first memory in life. I was 3 years old, and "helping" my brother and sister rake leaves so they could earn money to buy an Odyssey 2000. Pick Axe Pete was awesome!
  • Startrek (Score:3, Interesting)

    by grahammm ( 9083 ) * <graham@gmurray.org.uk> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:02PM (#22053148)
    My first computer gaming experience was the ASCII game Startrek on an HP2000.
  • by Brummund ( 447393 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:09PM (#22053336)
    but back in the old days, my first memory of gaming is of me and a friend typing in some Battleship game on the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinclair_ZX81 [wikipedia.org]. We had no cassette recorder (or at least didn't know we could hook up a standard one, as they claim on the Wiki-page), so we had to type it in every time we wanted to start a gaming session. Still was fun, though :)

  • by KeithH ( 15061 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:12PM (#22053406)
    During an open house in the Physics Department at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, I was given the chance to play "Lunar Lander" on a PDP 8. The input device was a light-pen and the display was a small raster display. The light pen was used to adjust thrust and attitude so that you could control your descent onto the lunar surface. It was bloody tough.

    However, the first *real* game I played was Adventur (truncated to 8 characters due to filesystem limitations) on a PDP-11/V03 running RT-11. This was in 1978. Mind you the game was already old at that point because it had, I believe, been originally written on a US Navy Burroughs. [You have to drop the magazines in Witt's End to get the final 350th point.]
  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:14PM (#22053446)
    First game, in one of the labs at the university my father lectured at, was an ASCII clone of Space Invaders for the PET. Though that was a one off.
    • First home computer: BBC Micro.
    • First games: (All on the same disc, which implies piracy was rampant back then too - though I was four or five and really didn't know any different.)
      • SWOOP [youtube.com] (Space Invaders clone)
      • A Defender [wikipedia.org] clone called Planetoid [bbcmicrogames.com]
      • A Pacman clone called Snapper
      • An Asteroids clone called Meteors! (these two by Acornsoft [bbcmicrogames.com])
      • A Donkey Kong clone called Killer Gorilla
      • A Frogger clone called Croaker
      • Chess - Model B (last three by MicroPower [bbcmicrogames.com])
    • Greatest game: Elite [wikipedia.org]. Given how far in advance of anything else it was for its time, it pisses all over games like Doom (which I admittedly also love) for the innovation title.

    Links included for reminiscing goodness at the expense of first post karma. ;)
  • by DeanFox ( 729620 ) * <spam@myname.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:16PM (#22053504)

    Unique? I guess I'm a "Dino" or whatever. I still remember the day my father brought home PONG. He was all excited and talking about electronics and stuff I didn't understand at the time. He was an engineer working Top Secret stuff for the government and was all into this. He was going on about miniaturization and that this would have taken a computer with "tubes" the size of a building before... All I wanted to do was was play it.

    You had to "hard wire" it to the antenna screws on the back of the TV and change the channel to 3. It was a box about half the size of a VCR player with two hard wired joy stick knobs. It had two slide switches one for 1-2 players and another 3 or 4 position switch for the game(s). Regular pong, advanced (small paddles), I think maybe a "break out" kind of version.

    The "ball" just went "boink" and returned after hitting something. You could put "spin" on it by turning the paddle at the same time the ball hit and it escalated in speed the longer you played. That was it. But it sure was fun! Especially the "boink" irritating my mother to the point of yelling at us to "turn than damn thing off and go outside and play" (back in the days that was still safe). Isn't sending your kid out to play now considered child abuse? [sarcasm] Ahhh... the good 'ol days

  • by Gonarat ( 177568 ) * on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:20PM (#22053600)

    That brings back the memories -- when I was in 10th grade, our High School had an account on the Lehigh University mainframe. After we finished loading our programming assignments (we typed them on paper tape offline, then loaded them online after the Teacher logged on), we would play Star Trek. I don't remember all of the commands now, but basically one would move from sector to sector. After each turn, a text-based grid map would be printed showing starbases, planets, Klingons, etc. Imagine waiting for the map to be printed at 110 baud after each turn...

    I also remember the text based adventures, especially the maze of twisty passages.

    When I was at college, Pac Man and Dungeons & Dragons were the big thing. I spent many an hour playing D&D with a cold beer at my side to keep me safe....good times.

  • Pong (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JesseL ( 107722 ) * on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:22PM (#22053648) Homepage Journal
    It was either the Magnavox Oddyssey 3000 [gameasylum.us] pong clone or a game called "Duck" on my Dad's Osborne 1 [oldcomputers.net].
  • Spacewar (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hidannik ( 1085061 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:23PM (#22053670) Homepage
    Spacewar at an MIT Open House around 1970 or '71. It was running on a megapixel resolution black-and-white monitor. The students playing it were using handmade controllers consisting of buttons sandwiched between two rectangular pieces of clear plastic - possibly the first gamepads ever.
  • by veganboyjosh ( 896761 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:28PM (#22053784)
    But my parents always seemed to be one or two steps behind when it came to technology of any kind. We only got an atari 2600 once all my friends had NES.

    I guess the guy we got the 2600 from was some sort of electrical engineer or something. One of the games we got was pinball, and this guy had modded one controller to have left and right momentary on button switches. I soon figured out that these buttons were basically just hardwired into the left and right switches on the joystick. It didn't take long to use them for other games. Once, while playing Pac-man, I hit both of them at once. (This, in effect, was the same as moving the joystick to the left and the right simultaneously, something that's impossible with just the joystick.)

    All of a sudden, Pac-man went left, through all the walls, and then got stuck in one of them. all the dots disappeared, and I moved to the next level. That led to me challenging my sister to games of Pac-man, as long as I got the pinball modded joystick.
  • re:pong (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ed.han ( 444783 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:31PM (#22053844) Journal
    wow...i scrolled all the way down and of the comments that still display w/out any effort, not a single one appears to refer to (pen & paper/tabletop) RPGs. am i alone in finding that surprising?

  • by NathanWoodruff ( 966362 ) * on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:50PM (#22054270) Journal
    I don't want to do an oneupmanship but, I remember a terminal that was an acoustic coupler and had a printer. This was around 1970 or 1971. The place was the Natick Mass public library http://local.yahoo.com/details?id=10081634&stx=public+library&csz=Natick+MA&ed=Q62W7q160SxXo0Jcd7NUnzJsRqu.7m6umZtosinaasqCRlW3Kw1k384.t95KKBbbJ2JDlW2O [yahoo.com]

    I remember having to walk there after first grade or so and dialing a phone number from a list of instructions. I remember the phone number being some college but don't know which... (MIT)????

    There was a sign up list for this terminal and I would always try to sign up for an hour block that had nobody signed up for the next several hours.

    I would spend hours at this terminal trying to race a US postal truck around a race course that printed out on these rolls of paper. I probably still have these rolls somewhere as I remember I kept them through at least high school.

    I wish someone else had some more detail on what that terminal was connected to.

  • by StaticEngine ( 135635 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:23PM (#22055136) Homepage
    Sure, I played some game about a boulder rolling down a hill on a Commodore PET, and I played Pong on an Atari 2600, along with Gyruss, Asteroids, and Tempest at the arcade, pizza parlor and local supermarket, but the game I really remember as being intesely great was Dragon's Lair, the Laserdisc game. I first played this at an arcade in the mall in Central Islip, NY when I was nine or ten years old, and after plunking $1 into it for two games (because, you know, it cost an astonishing $0.50!!), I walked away with my knees shaking from excitement.

    I remember thinking at the time that this was the future of games. Not the one choice per second, or the limits, but the sound, the pictures, and the immersion that Dragon's Lair offered. No longer was I simply pushing giant colored pixels around a screen, I was a real character, as real as any Saturday Morning Cartoon, on a real adventure facing off against fully realized environments and traps. Sure, they were the same every time, and there was very little "game" there. That didn't matter. It was the experience, the sheer emotional rush, that really got to me.

    There were games I'd played before Dragon's Lair, but that was the first "game experience" that produced a real response, and it's something I'll never forget.
  • by Skim123 ( 3322 ) <mitchell AT 4guysfromrolla DOT com> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:26PM (#22055218) Homepage

    My introduction to gaming was through my dad, at age three, as well. Our neighbors went on a multi-week vacation, and my parents were asked to look after their house - water the plants, get the mail, and so on. They had an Atari and Space Invaders, so my dad and I would go over there to "water the plants" and stay for hours playing Space Invaders.

    Three or four years later we bought a used Atari at a garage sale, although I think the trivial interest in video games had worn off for him by then, so it was primarily my brother and I playing. A pattern we would repeat through Nintendo - Techmo Super Bowl and Zelda being the two we played together most often - and then a Sega, with our favorites being NBA Live 95, Madden, and NBA Jam.

    Sweet memories.

  • by BlindRobin ( 768267 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:58PM (#22055852)
    but the question says nothing about computers. The first game I remember playing would be either Shutes and Ladders, Candy Land or maybe Parcheesi probably about 1957 or so.
  • Vic-20 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:03PM (#22055954)
    Mine was on the Vic-20, the Commodore-64's immediate predecessor. The first was a simple Basic counting game that I think my mom wrote as part of a programming tutorial. I'm guessing I was about three years old at the time.

    My first commercial game was probably Tooth Invaders. You were a toothbrush, running around on a set of 2-D teeth, removing plague. Germs would wander around depositing plague and could kill you. If enough plague accumulated, you'd get a cavity and lose. Graphics quality put Strong Bad's "Duck Pond" to shame. After that it was Mole Attack, Moon Base, and the best game available at the time: Choplifter.

    After we got a 286, I spent quite a bit of time on the first edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator, flying a 172 out of Midway, amusing myself sometimes by flying into the Hancock building.

    Aww...the memories. I should go find an emulator and ROM's for all these.
  • by Harlow_B_Ashur ( 35202 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:11PM (#22056104)
    Precursor to asteroids, two triangle spaceships fly around a sun spitting missile pixels at each other.

    Be careful not to fly too close to the sun!
  • Space War! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:21PM (#22056288)
    1968 - SpaceWar! on the MIT PDP-1
  • by ellem ( 147712 ) <ellem52@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:03PM (#22058094) Homepage Journal
    Pong! then Hack then Adventure... but really immersed? Really engaged? Zork. I didn't eat. It was all I cared about. When Zork II came out I "tested" every possible permutation of the spinning room. I wasn't even playing the game, I was seeing what would happen... ::Fear ::I don't know the word fear
  • Re:WHAT??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:00PM (#22058924)

    Not many games you can play on a slide rule.

    Dude, if you're old enough to remember the slide rule, you're old enough to remember Martin Gardner's column in Scientific American. There are lots of games there where the slide rule comes in handy.

    Apart from John Horton Conway's famous game, My Dad Has More Money Than Your Dad (scientific notation edition), you can use your slide rule to work out the winning strategy for Nim. I'm pretty sure that's the only slide rule game with decent AI, though.

  • Re:Pong (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @11:00PM (#22061650)
    Hey that was my first computer game too! Star Trek or Super Star Trek. It was on my friend's DEC PDP-11. His father worked for 'Digital' so he had one of those slick puppies at home. Check this [almy.us] out. I also played the original Adventure (Colossal Cave?) on that PDP-11 but that's all I can remember. I was about 9 I think. I really loved that machine. To this day I wonder what happened to it. Probably got thrown away. Everything is so much more intense when you are a child, and it was so exciting because computer gaming was not something that anyone really did. Of course later on my friends and I would pay visits to the one kid on the block with a brand new Atari 2600 and play that tank game (great fun), and the 2600 Adventure game with that chalice.

    Not too long after this my friend managed to score a starter kit for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (in addition to Gamma World and Top Secret). He even found out about some lecture at MIT on AD&D which we attended. Haha. Unfortunately he was never as enthusiastic about actually playing it, and I didn't really have any friends who were. I mostly ended up playing it with my sister, who hated it and was mostly humoring me. Shows the importance of having sufficiently geeky friends. I used to map and write out my own modules but I had no one to play them with. As much as I loved computers, there was nothing on the computer that could even remotely compare to PnP D&D. I really feel that I missed out on something important by not having the right friends at the time. I knew of other people in my school who seemed to play it in groups but I was too shy to try to really make friends with them. And they didn't really appeal to me as friends except for their shared interest in D&D.

    I didn't get my own game machine until I could afford to buy one (~$300?). An Atari 400 with that huge and loud external disk drive (although not as big as the 8" one on the DEC). By that time my friend also had an Atari 400, but with the cassette tape reader instead of a disk drive. Damn that thing was SLOW. My favorite games on that were Archon, Choplifter, Castle Wolfenstein, Crush Crumble and Chomp, Lode Runner, and Pole Position. I especially played Archon and Castle Wolfenstein endlessly. I bought Zork as soon as it was released after reading Isaac Asimov's review of it in Creative Computing, but I never liked it all that much. Adventure games at that time could be so frustrating. Those stupid dam controls. Argh. The only thing more annoying were the very first graphical adventure games like Wizard and the Princess. I used to call the help line when I got stuck on that one. I don't know why I put myself through that torture.

    It is a little hard for me to describe the intense feelings of fascination and longing I had when looking at the more expensive machines of that era like the Apple IIe. So beautiful. Still love that logo. Or the TRS-80. There was a certain amount of rivalry between those who owned Apples and those (poorer folks) who only had Atari 400/800, but really everyone wanted the Apples. They were just so cool. And there was at least one game on the Apple (Cranston Manor) and one on the TRS-80 (can't remember the name but it sort of reminds me of Rikki Tikki Tavi for some reason) that I really wanted but was never able to play on my lowly Atari.

    I went away to boarding (high) school and didn't touch a computer until college when I bought a 486-33DX for like $3000 from Tri-Star, a company I found in Computer Shopper of course. In high school I remember seeing those magazine ads in Omni or Discover for the Amiga. I wanted one of those so badly but I didn't have the money. Actually those ads were pure marketing genius. They seemed (at least to my teenage brain) to offer a glimpse into a whole world of uber-cool tech that would be mine if I could just come up with the cash. Although by that time I was more interested in programming than gaming.

    Ah, the nostalgia. I envy kids these days with their high powered graph
  • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @01:05AM (#22062802) Homepage

    he said, "try this." He typed


    and my fate was sealed. I work on computers to this day.
    Heh. I bet there are a hundreds of us with nearly the same story. For me it was my father, and it was on an NCSS PDP-11 via a 15" tractor-feed dot matrix printing serial terminal with a 300 baud acoustic coupler modem and a rotary dial phone in the living room. After that, it was all over.

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer