I’m old. I admit that. At 40–something, I remember when there were no computers available for one’s home. I can also remember the magic that was Pong!
Yes, I remember playing all of the variants available from the console you hooked up to your TV. Channel 3 or 4 – depending on what market you were in – was where the TV had to be to turn on and enjoy Pong!
My brother and I also had an original Atari. Shamefully, I admit to having played and beaten the worst game in history, ET: The Extraterrestrial (fast forward to 2:12). I was too young and stupid to realize how bad the game was. Of course, I spent most of my time playing Breakout!, Pac-Man, Ms. PacMan, Asteroids, Space Invaders, etc.
About the same time I – and many of my female friends – were learning about this new computer thing via the Vic20. My dad wouldn’t allow us to have a modem. I think it had to do with the hacking ring that got arrested in our neck of the woods pretty early. So, I got the big book of BASIC games and typed in the code for Moonlander and Worms, saved it to cassette tape, and would play those games. I learned quickly that actual programming wasn’t going to be my career as even perfectly written code didn’t always compile for me.
Soon we graduated to the Commodore 64 in all its graphical glory. I spent hours doing ice skating in Winter Games and diving in Summer Olympics. My brother and I fought over this computer. I won because I needed it to type papers for college – as well as a gaming box.
Then we got our first laptop computer which ran DOS. The games that captured me? Zork, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and SimEarth. I don’t know how many hours I spent playing SimEarth. It really was a better game than any SimCity has been.
Around the same time I bought myself a Nintendo Entertainment System. It was the first luxury item I bought myself after graduating high school. I, of course, bought Tetris with it. Tetris, was, however, my downfall as a gamer for quite some time. After I burned out my Nintendo, I stopped playing games for a very long time. Why? Because I couldn’t find my beloved Tetris! I was also a poor editor in her first job out of graduate school.
Yep, I stopped gaming because I was without money. I think this happens to a lot of women in gaming. Women do, overall, earn less than men and due to biology have higher expenses. (Why are women’s necessities so darn expensive?) Now, I don’t think this is true only for women, but, curiously, my brother never had to give up gaming. Of course, he did have to move in with me for a short time…
I can’t imagine I’m the only woman in her mid-forties or older who has been playing video games since the 1970s, at least off and on. Readers, please tell me of the games you played, miss, or are playing now.