jcalder8's Blog

Posted on Aug 29th 2011 at 05:37:49 AM by (jcalder8)
Posted under Biography, Memories, Stories, Intellivision

     I always thought that it would be cool to write a book about my life, not that I have lived an especially exciting one but we all have stories that would translate into good reading. Of course that is never going to happen unless I write and publish the book myself but thanks to RF Gen and the internet I have an opportunity to at least share it with everyone on here.... Who knows maybe it will even lead to a book and movie deal..... maybe not.

     I will be turning 30 this year and I thought that as a treat to myself that I would finally start to write down all the different memories that I have of growing up, or at least the ones that relate to my favorite past time, and now near obsession, video games.

     I was born on a snowy December 29th day in Mission BC, it does not really have much to do with anything gaming related apart from the fact that I used to combine Christmas and Birthday money into bigger and better gifts, but more on that later. I have 1 older brother so it meant that I was able to get away with more than he was. I also had a minor health scare when I was young so I think that made my mom want to spoil me a bit more than my brother, or maybe it was just that I would ask for more than he would.

     My dad is a minister and my mom is a stay at home mom, so we never had a lot of money growing up but we always had food.... and video games. My dad was, and still is, interested in any electronic gadgets. He had a nice stereo setup from what I have heard when he was growing up and we were one of the first people in our neighborhood to get a cordless phone. So when the video game craze started up he went and bought an Intellivision. This meant that ever since I was brought home I have had a chance to be around video games. He had gathered a few video games before the crash but after the market fell out he was always on the lookout for cheap games. I remember going into Value Village with him and looking at the electronics department to see if they had any games, if I recall correctly he bought Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack.

     One game that my dad often tried to play was Utopia. At the time the game was way too advanced for me to understand what was going on but I do remember that he would often get frustrated with. Part of it might have had to do with the fact that it was a strategy game and my dad has never been a big one for long term planning or maybe it was because he never found enough time to sit down and focus on it without 2 kids running around but probably the biggest factor for his lack of success was the fact that we did not have the manual for it. Out of all the games he could have picked he had to choose the hardest one. I have wondered over this years if this game is to blame for my dad's lack of interest in playing video games.

     He did try his hand at Super Mario Bros. when we got the NES but he always commented that he could not get past "the second assistant goomba" which although comical was also fairly accurate. Since then I think the next time that I got him to actually pick up the controller was just after I had gotten Guitar Hero II for the 360 and he came to visit. He may not have played for very long but I am proud to say that he did not fail out of it. He may not have been an expert gamer but he was always willing to listen to me natter on about video games and if he was available he would take me to rent a game. Although I have never asked my parents about it I would hazard to guess that he had talked to my mom about allowing me to get another game or system. Now as for my mom as a gamer, well let's just say she does not really hit her stride until the Gameboy comes out so more on her later.

The only memory I have of my mom playing video games when I was young was of her playing Skiing for the Intellivision. It is a very simple game where all you have to do is steer your skier down the slope. You want to avoid the trees and try to go through as many gates as you can and then you get your time at the end.

There was only one problem that my mom had playing the game and that was avoiding the trees. No matter what she did she was always able to find more. She had so little luck at it that she would get a better score if she just left the controller on the table and did not touch it rather than trying to stir him down the slope.

    I never had one moment where I remember first being interested in video games since they were always around it also means that I never dreamt about having another game since in my mind our collection of 20 games was massive. I of course had my favorites though, my brother and I would play Triple Action, biplane or tanks usually, I liked SNAFU since I could play it on my own, but my favorite by FAR was and still is SHARK! SHARK!

    SHARK! SHARK! for those who don't know, really how dare you be reading anything video game related and not know about SHARK! SHARK!, is a simple game where you start off as a little fish and eat smaller fish to get bigger until you grow large enough to eat pretty much anything that comes your way. The main exception is the shark, you can't eat him, your only option is to destroy him, which you do by biting his tail of course. Just before he enters the screen the music from Jaws starts to play and when he turns around the game makes a swooshing noise. These are important factors since when you bite his tail he turns around so you have to be ready for it and listening for the swoosh allows you to judge when you have bite him. In case you want to see it in action here is a video clip from Youtbe:

     But enough about the game, the fact is that this was the first game that just clicked with me. I was always the smallest so maybe I liked the fact that I could grow in the game, maybe it was that I lived near the ocean so the thought of playing a game in the ocean was appealing, or maybe it was the fact that I could play as long as I wanted to.  My parents were always good about making sure that my brother and I each got a turn and in this case it was a turn with the TV. He literally watches TV from the moment he gets out of bed to when he falls asleep so if he was given the option he would always monopolize it. My mom came up with a system that allowed us each to enjoy it. My brother would pick 2 or 3 shows a day during the summer to watch and then I would get to play a game in between, of course when my game ended my brother would want to TV back. SHARK! SHARK! on the other hand allowed me to play as long as I felt like. I would regularly get to 99 lives and I would stop playing after about 45 minutes normally because I would just get bored. Thankfully for my brother this interest did not last too long, after how long do you really want to play a game that you have already mastered?

I can't believe that I am already up to the age of 5! Rest assured that there are more parts coming and are already being worked on. Unless of course this bombs and then I'll have to wait and have them all read out at my 70th birthday or something.

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I'll just wait for the movie....

Just kidding. I love it, cant wait for the next entry.
That was quite a fun read.  I am only about 4 years your senior and really love hearing about people growing up on the early systems.  Though graphics have constantly gotten better over time, I don't think anything can compare to the jump from those earlier systems to the NES.  What an exciting and life-changing event that was for me.  Look forward to reading more.
Excellent read.  Thank you for taking the time to put these reflections down - it brings back fond memories from my early years.  Keep up the good work!

Thanks for reading guys. I have started on the next part. Well actually I'm more just writing this down as I remember them and then piecing everything together.

@singlebanana: The biggest jump for me was from SNES to N64 but you'll see when I get there.
I somehow missed this earlier, but I'm glad I caught it. We share a birthday jcalder8, but I am several years your senior. I grew up with the 2600, but my Grandfather had an Intellivision, and that is all my cousins and I ever did when we were there. Reading brings back the memories, so please, keep it up!
I enjoy reading about others' childhood gaming experiences. It's neat comparing to my own experiences, where gaming was inherited from my grandfather and became the ultimate sibling peacemaker.
Thanks for checking it out.

I'll have another part ready to go on Sunday. My main problem is that I keep thinking of more things to write about lol.

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