I have many memories of videogames, overwhelmingly positive. While I realize the dangers of nostalgia, what I’d like to do every so oft is recall something from my gaming past and see why it held such wonder for me. Also, even though I have a personal journal, these are memories I rarely record, and this seems the appropriate space.
Beyond just playing games, I enjoyed watching family members themselves play. Long before I ever picked up The Secret of Monkey Island for myself, I recall quite vividly my first interaction with it. My family used to own an optometrist shop in my hometown of Fulda, and upon one visit to see my grandparents, my cousin Christian was also visiting.
He went on my grandfather Alfred’s computer and showed me this game. He was on Monkey Island itself and I remember him using the rather large Q-tip to gain entrance to LeChuck’s cave. Later that evening he and I would return to my grandparents’ house and we would set up a camp in the backyard, not too far from the house, and run a Nintendo out to the back and played videogames quite late into the evening. I’m not sure what playing the Nintendo outside in a tent actually accomplished, and I don’t even recall sleeping in the tent…
I spent a lot of my time watching my mother play numerous adventure games and my father play his SSI Dungeons & Dragons Gold Box series. This is why a short while ago I wondered about not only the player’s interaction with games, but the non-gamer’s reaction as well. I enjoyed sitting down and watching my mother play these games, seeing if I could read the text before her uncannily quick eyes absorbed the information and clicked on to the next text box. For the adventure games, it created a sense that these were just like a book I might pick up, or a film I might watch, but that there was someone actually controlling the actions–someone I could physically see in front of me.
I never did watch my parents play any game from beginning to end, which would be useful when I would later pick up those same games and try them myself. The puzzles weren’t ruined, and in many ways, it was a whole new experience. I knew these characters and had already established a connection. Roger Wilco, Larry Laffer, (insert name) Hero, King Graham, Guybrush Threepwood, and many more were household names. Later, discussions would occur between my mother and myself in which we’d chuckle over the Space Monkeys in Space Quest V: The Next Mutation, the adorability of the Meeps in Quest for Glory I: So You Want to Be a Hero?, or even recall lines from the Insult Sword Fighting of Monkey Island.
Shortly after I started this blog, my mother and I had a discussion, and I think this excerpt from that conversation sums this post up rather well:
Daniela: You know, I never even considered that gaming would have an impact on you guys.
Denis: You do realize you are in a minority as a mother who pushed games on us? :P
Daniela: It just seemed a fun family thing.
For my family, this was just another one of those shared experiences, and one which I’m glad to say I have. We didn’t merely play the same games and then discuss them, there was an added element of actually sharing time together. I even recall all of us playing through the beginning of Noctropolis and providing different solutions.