Posted on Monday, November 7th, 2011 at 6:00 PM by Paul James
First off, I would just like to introduce myself and say ‘Hi’, I’m Paul, Founder of Z1G and if you have ever interacted with @zero1gaming on Twitter then it was me you were interacting with, I’m the guy behind the big red Z.
‘My Retro years’ is a feature where the author tells his/her story of their early months and years as a gamer.
Before I go any further I should point out that I’m no writer, hence which is why this is my very first written post, but I think it’s only right that I should contribute my story to this brand new feature. I hope you enjoy!
Being born in 1971 meant that my generation was going to be the first generation that was lucky enough to grow up alongside the growth of video games. My first experience of video games would have been in the late 70s early 80s playing iconic games such as Space Invaders and Pacman in arcades in the local seaside resorts of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, places my family visited a lot during the summer months of my childhood.
The first game I can remember getting hooked on in these arcades was called Pole Position and I would have been around 11 years old. It was 10p a go and I would spend all my money on this one game, I played this until I was about 15 and it took me a good two to three years before I mastered that game and completed it.
The first time I ever saw and played on a console was at youth club at about the age of 12 or 13. I can’t remember the exact model, but it was an Atari and the game us kids played on the most was called Pitfall.
Although the Atari was a huge success during the late 70′s through to the mid-80′s, I can honestly say I didn’t know anyone who actually owned one, apart from our youth club. To be honest I didn’t really spend too much time playing on the Atari, I was too busy getting up to no good with my mates whilst wearing our skin tight jeans and luminous yellow socks. Oh yes that was the fashion at the time, spray on jeans as we used to call them and to gain access into these jeans you literally had to give yourself a wedgy, the most effective way I found getting into them was to pull on them as hard as you possibly could whilst bouncing around your bedroom like a baby kangaroo on a diet of smarties, after about five minutes of this you were in. Once in the spray ons, the bottoms of them would sit about 2-3 inches above your shoes so the luminous yellow socks could be seen by anyone within a one mile radius. Oh dear, what a bunch of Wally’s we all must of looked, but hey, it was the 80s, it was allowed. And the fashion seems to have come back around again anyway, haha!
Getting away from baby kangaroos and bunches of Wally’s, although the Atari wasn’t the world’s first games console, it was the first console to be a huge commercial success which shaped the way forward for all the consoles that have succeeded it…… and I got to play on it.
My first experience of video games in the home was round my best mates house. His parents bought him a Commodore 64 and we would spend many evenings in his bedroom waiting for the games to load, back then we spent more time loading them than we did playing them and it was more frustrating than it is for a man with no arms watching porn. A few months later, Christmas arrived, it would have been around 1985 and I managed to talk my parents into buying me a Commodore 64 which cost £200, a lot of money now, let alone then, but I managed to talk them round to my way of thinking and get one. However when the C64 first hit British shores in 1983 to take on the British built and market leader Sinclair ZX Spectrum, it cost a whopping £399 where the ZX cost less than half at £175. By 1986 the C64 had taken top spot and was outselling the ZX. Did I ever play on the ZX? Well I seem to remember my cousin having a ZX, but cant remember what games we played on it. I also remember going round a friend of my mates who had one and we played Manic Miner on that, and I recall the graphics being pretty similar in standard to the C64, maybe the Commodore slightly edged it.
Leading up to that Christmas, I remember going shopping with my mother to buy some games for the C64 so I had some to play on, on Christmas day. The first game I bought that day was called Monty on the Run and it cost £9.95, this is one of the games my mate and I had wasted large parts of our teenage years waiting to load in his bedroom, and I wanted that game too. This game from memory used to take about 20-30 minutes to load and would quite often crash right at the end and the process would have to start all over again. Very expensive games were made on a cartridge which had an instant loading time but most games back then were on cassette tape and the loading times were horrendous. Another downside to gaming in the 80s for most kids playing in their bedrooms was, most of us had black and white TVs, yes we had to play our games in black and white but we were the lucky ones because a lot of kids didn’t even have a TV in their bedroom, let alone a computer to play games on. Other games I owned or played on the C64 were Manic Miner, Pole Position (but the graphics were awful compared to the arcade version) Kickstart, Ghostbusters, Bounty Bob Strikes Back, Fruit Machine Simulator, Rambo, I also had a game which came free with the C64 on a cartridge called The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4, it was based on the TV series and it was utter tosh! If you don’t be believe me, please check out the video below, this game was about as addictive as pulling your finger nails out. The only good thing about this game was that it was on cartridge and it loaded instantly, had it of been on tape, its fair to say the loading time would of been more interesting than the game itself and without doubt just before the little analogue tape counter on the tape deck would of been nearing the end of loading the game, I would of been begging for it to crash!
At about the age of 15 my mate and I started hanging around in our local café and played the arcaders in there, there was two I played an awful lot of and they were Pacland and Paperboy. I loved Pacland, the graphics were so smooth and cartoony, which is what got me hooked on it, I don’t think I ever completed this game but I certainly got very close if I didn’t. Paperboy I did complete, took me a while but I did complete and loved that game too.
After all this, gaming would pretty much leave my life for quite a few years while I went out into that big wide world and built a life, but it came crashing back into it in the late 90s when I went out to buy my sons first ever console, the PS One, for Christmas. I distinctly remember when I got it home I just had to give it a try to make sure it worked before wrapping it up and putting it under the tree lol. Gaming was back in my life!
Today I’m playing Battlefield 3 and experiencing graphics I hoped as a kid gaming would achieve one day, but never believed it would happen in my lifetime.
Also the ability to game with your friends whilst they are sitting in their house and you are sitting in yours playing over the thing they call the internet.
It’s fair to say the internet conversation was way beyond our imaginations and never discussed when my mate and I were growing bum fluff waiting for Monty to load.
That’s ‘My Retro Years’, if you are still reading thank you, the rest of TeamZ1G will also be telling their stories in the coming weeks. But us here at Zero1Gaming would like to get to know our readers better and what better way to do that is to hear your story too, every gamer has a beginning and every gamer has a different story to tell, we would love to hear your story and share it by publishing it on this very feature.
Before I leave, I would just like to take this opportunity as it will be a while before I post again, to thank all of Team Z1G, Anthony, Hannah, Kirsty, Matt, Mike, Ollie, Rachel, Raymond and Tim for all their hard work and fantastic content they provide for Zero1Gaming, thanks guys. Also like to thank a very special person in my life called Ally, she has supported Z1G from day one and helps me daily with bits and pieces behind the scenes, thanks girl. Last but not least, thank you to each and every one of you who has supported us since we launched, that goes to everyone who reads our posts, follows us on Twitter, Youtube and Facebook, retweets our tweets, reads and shares our Facebook page posts. I have met some truly wonderful people over the last nine months, thank you all so very much.
I think it’s time I returned to my comfort zone, slip back behind the scenes, grab the steering wheel of the Twitter feed and leave this writing malarkey to the experts.
Please check out the videos of some of the games mentioned above and don’t forget to contact us with your ‘Retro Years’.
Thanks for reading
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