Prior to Xmas we’ll be running a number of blogs written by residents of our district. They’ll write about their hobbies, an area of expertise, or what has helped them cope during lockdown 1 and 2. Below is the first instalment.
My name is Graham. I am a gamer.
I’ve been a gamer for the last 40 years, after I got a 2nd hand Atari 2600 console when I was 11.
This would’ve been back in 1980, and at the time, the graphics, and available games were a revelation, albeit being very crude and simple, viewed through today’s eyes.
It provided an avenue of escape from real life, and all its attendant stresses, it was exciting, therapeutic, and yes, even educational.
I loved my old Atari,and was heartbroken when it finally died. I mourned it. Yes, yes, I know…
A year or so later,a whole new type of console came out. This was called Vectrex (pictured), and it was unique in that you didn’t need to plug it into the telly. It had it’s own! You just plugged the games cartridges (remember those?), into the slot in the side, and off you went!
The 80’s were the start of the console wars, fought between the only two names in the business at the time; Nintendo and Sega (Sony still, at the time, making walkmans, stereos and TV’s,and Microsoft not existing).
This “war” lasted the whole decade, and encompassed at least two generations of consoles each. Nintendo’s being the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System),and the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System),and Sega’s being the Master System, then the Mega Drive.
After this, the game world got a bit complicated, with new versions brought out, new accessories, this, that and the other happening, and it began to get hard to keep up with. And those were the early, simple days.
During this time, I was firmly in the Sega camp, Nintendo’s cartoonish graphics not working for me, but due to better advertising campaigns by Nintendo, compared to not much advertising at all from Sega, the eventual winner was Nintendo, despite Sega producing (arguably) better consoles. Atari deciding that making hardware wasn’t for them, and settled for making software instead.
Not advertising, is a lesson Sega seemed unable to learn, as a few years later,they launched the Saturn (pictured), which went head to head with Sony’s new Playstation. Sony advertised the hell out of it, while Sega barely bothered, so perhaps unsurprisingly, they got trounced, and following Ataris’ example, decided to just make games instead. I had a Saturn. It was pretty good. It and the Playstation were the first generation to have games on disc, rather than plug in cartridges. Graphics were unbelievable at the time, gameplay was fast and smooth, and all was well on Planet Gamer.
Sony had it all it’s own way, more or less. Nintendo’s popularity had waned a tiny bit, and Microsofts X Box hadn’t yet made an appearance, but when it did,it went up against the Playstation 2, and a 2nd console war began.
This would have been in the late 90’s, early to mid 2000’s, and my personal gaming mania was at its height. But which one to get? I agonised over it for weeks, weighing up the pros and cons of each: price, games, availability, etc before going for the PS2, not a decision I regretted for a moment.
Racing games for when I was relaxed, shooters for when I wasn’t… there seemed to be a game for my every mood. I was in love! A bit too in love, perhaps, as I started to neglect real life and my friends in it (sorry guys and girls, but I still love you). So I tried to strike a balance between worlds, managing my gaming time, juggling it between work and what social life I had left, and unfortunately, my gaming life suffered for it. But did I quit gaming? Did I hell! I condensed. Limited my collection of games to three or four core titles and concentrated on those in the time available.
It worked pretty well. I got used to gaming less, but enjoying them more, having a social life, and actually getting some sleep, and when the next generation came out (Sony’s PS3,and Microsoft’s Xbox 360), I was ready and waiting. I’d even bought a new TV to play them on. (This was about 2005, 2006)