As you’re probably aware from my recent posts, I treated myself to a Nintendo Switch games console a couple of weeks ago. I’m hoping to write a post about that soon which will include why it’s particularly accessible for me as someone with a chronic illness & which games I’m currently enjoying. But first I thought I’d write a post with some memories of gaming.
To start with I’d just like to make it clear that I wouldn’t call myself a gamer. Yes, I enjoy playing games but I’m not particularly skilled at them & definitely just do it casually.
Regarding games consoles, my heart lies with Nintendo. I have tried out other consoles that friends/family have owned though (& had a second hand PS2 for a while, but didn’t use it much) & used computers & mobile phones to play games.
I’m not sure what my first gaming memory is but I have two from around a similar time in my childhood.
Before we bought our first family computer, when I was about 8 years old, my older brother had one in his bedroom. I can remember playing a game on that & recently asked him if he remembered what it was called. It was Commander Keen, a side scrolling 2D platformer from the early 1990s.
One of my uncles used to work in London so he’d often come to visit me during hospital admissions. During the early to mid 90s he used a PDA for work & on it he had a couple of Sonic the Hedgehog games which I used to enjoy playing.
As I said previously, in around 1998, we bought our first family computer. It ran Windows 98. There are two games I can remember playing in the first few years of having it. The first was Frogger, a game where you have to control a frog crossing lanes of traffic & rivers. Even my mum used to play that. The second was Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, which is pretty self explanatory.
I also have memories of playing a game called Q*Bert on a friend’s computer a few years later & another friend had one on her Windows 95 computer where you played as a mouse collecting cheese. I had a computer game based on The Really Wild Show back in the days when that was still on TV & a Harry Potter game years later. I haven’t played many computer games but have also dabbled in a few online ones over the years. Of course Neopets (& then PowerPets) were amongst those when they were at the height of popularity.
Mentioning Neopets has reminded me of Tamagotchis. I don’t think I ever had an official one but definitely tried some of the cheaper versions. I also had a Digimon one for a while.
The first games console I owned was a Gameboy Color. I think I was 8 years old. My younger brother & I had both been pestering my parents for them for a little while but they were very adamant that we couldn’t have them. Until my younger brother had an accident. As a reward for being good/a consolation, my parents bought him a purple Gameboy Color. Due to sibling rivalry I wasn’t at all happy with this & didn’t want to wait til my birthday to get one, so that summer I sold lots of my old toys (such as Polly Pockets) at a carboot sale & raised enough money to buy myself a Yellow Gameboy Color & Pokemon Red. My younger brother had Pokemon Blue. I also had Pokemon Silver, Super Mario Bros Deluxe, Tetris DX & Harvest Moon 2. Our Gameboy Colors were very useful when we spent around 7 hours in the car on the way to & from our family summer holidays in Cornwall.
After that I skipped the Gameboy Advance but had a Gameboy Advance SP. I had the first 3 Harry Potter games, Sonic Advance & Yoshi’s Island for that.
In 2004 or 2005, so when I was about 14, I spent a period of time in hospital with horrendous nosebleeds which we now know were due to my liver failure. My dad stayed in with me but as always my mum visited regularly. One day she phoned before she set off & said that she’d got a surprise for me. All she would tell me that it was smaller than a shoebox. It was a Nintendo DS & I was over the moon with it.
Since then I’ve had a DSi & 3DS but have now happily settled with a simpler 2DS which does everything I require it to. This still takes DS game cards (as well as the newer 3DS ones) so over the years I’ve built up quite a collection of games – most of which I’ve bought second hand for bargain prices. I’ve got 60 DS games & 15 3DS games! Some of my favourites are Mario Kart (DS & 7), the Professor Layton series, Sonic games (Classic Collection, Rush & Rush Adventure), various Mario titles (New Super Mario Bros, New Super Mario Bros 2, Super Mario 64 DS & Super Mario 3D Land), Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Trauma Centre Under the Knife & Soul Bubbles.
I didn’t get my first games console that connected to a TV until much later than I got my first portable games console. I have memories of playing on a friend’s dance mat, using her Sega console & playing a Tony Hawks game on her Playstation as a child though. Before I had my own standard games console my younger brother had a GameCube & I used to watch him playing games on that – mainly Animal Crossing. I can’t recall joining in though. We tend to have different taste in games – he likes sandbox style ones that give you a lot of flexibility & encourage you to explore (such as Animal Crossing & some of the Zelda games), whereas I prefer more structured games with clearer goals, like platformers.
I spent winter 2006 (mid November to mid February) in hospital following my transplant. I was 16. That was the winter that the Wii games console launched. My parents wanted to get my younger brother & I one each for Christmas (we couldn’t share one as we were apart) but they were like gold dust. I have no idea how they managed it but we both woke up to one on Christmas Day morning. I connected mine up to my TV in my cubicle & as I started to recover I thoroughly enjoyed using it. I can remember playing Wario Ware: Smooth Moves where one of the mini games required you to hold the remote on your nose like an elephant! I also recall treating myself to Monkey Ball from a shop in the city where my hospital was.
Once home I continued to enjoy using my Wii, especially racing others on Mario Kart, bowling on Wii Sports with my family & playing a platformer called Donkey Kong Country Returns in co-op mode with a friend. After that I had a Wii U for a short while but didn’t use it much. As my chronic illnesses progressed & my exhaustion increased I struggled more & more to play games on the TV. So when I had enough energy I’d play a game on my 2DS (or whichever version of the DS I had at the time) or my phone instead.
And that leads me on to phone games. There are so many available nowadays that it takes some work to weed the decent ones out from the rubbish. I’ve tried many in the years since I got my first smart phone but have a few definite favourites now. I particularly enjoy Alto’s Adventure & Alto’s Odyssey (fun little games where you guide a snowboarder to avoid obstacles & do tricks), Neko Atsume (a cute cat collecting game) & Emoji Blitz (where you match Disney emojis to reach goals & unlock new characters). I also enjoy playing card & puzzle games but won’t go into detail about those here.
My first phone was a Nokia 3410 so of course I played Snake on that.
I’m sorry this post is so long, it just flowed out of me. Don’t worry if you didn’t want to/weren’t able to read it all, as I think it was written as much for me as it was for others to read. As always thank you for reading & please leave a comment if you’d like to share any of your own gaming memories with me.