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The oldest gamer on the earth: my eight a long time of online game reminiscences Specific Instances

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From Magnavox Odyssey to PS5 (Image: Evan Amos/Sony)

One among GameCentral’s oldest readers recounts a gaming life that goes from an interactive TV game in the 1950s to the modern day PS5.

I am one of the oldest gamers, I’m a retired engineer. I played Winky Dink and You on a black and white television in the early 1950s, it’s the first video game. I was young but not too young to be severely disappointed. Basically, it was a transparent TV overlay that you drew on with a crayon.

When one of the cartoons used it, it would have things like Winky Dink having to cross a bridge but there was nothing there and you had to draw it in on the overlay. It was lame because if you didn’t draw the required things on the screen the action still happened anyway and being five or six, I probably wasn’t drawing the right stuff quick enough.

My next video game adventure was a Magnavox Odyssey. Also, a huge disappointment. It played Pong and Hockey. It had three knobs to control the paddle. Evidently it was designed for a Venusian, because unless you had three hands it was virtually impossible to play.

Then came the NES, Atari Jaguar, Genesis, 3DO, Neo Geo, Commodore 128, Timex Sinclair 2068 (I did the cover screen art for three Spectrum games for a company started by some Timex engineers), Xbox, PlayStation 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Atari 5200, and many PCs. [The reader is American, so the Genesis is the Mega Drive and the Timex Sinclair is the ZX Spectrum. We’re not sure if Winky Dink and You was shown on British TV, but we doubt it – GC]

Most had fun games but except for the NES joystick and the Neo Geo sticks the controllers on all of those other systems made the games almost unplayable. There is no almost at all, about the horrible Atari 5200 analogue stick that flopped over when you let go of it. That stick made every single game completely unplayable on the 5200.

I made a digital joystick that works perfectly. I probably have the only digital joystick for an Atari 5200 in the world. The 3DO gamepad would input random commands if you put even a little twist on it while holding it. The Atari Jaguar gamepad was a near death useless hunk of plastic, the original 2600 joysticks were far superior.

I cracked the save code for the PS1 Doom 1 and 2 disc and generated a whole bunch of save codes with full weapons and ammo and it was published in an old EGM article. I kept one code to myself, that starts Doom 1 on the first level with all weapons and ammo including the double barrel shotgun, which you can’t get until Doom 2 normally. Someday I’ll release that save code if anyone is ever interested, maybe speedrunners.

I bought a Commodore 128 and learned Basic. Had a lot of fun with that. Bought over 100 games for it before I stopped using it. I would say some of my greatest experiences were on that machine. At least until I played Tomb Raider on the PS1.

Later I bought many PCs and got into MMOs. I played Ultima Online the first year it came out, then many of the rest for about a year each: EverQuest 1 and 2, Asheron’s Call 1 and 2, Anarchy Online, Dark Age Of Camelot, World Of Warcraft, and Star Wars Galaxies.

I’ll never forget an experience I had in the first couple of days after Ultima Online came out. It had been in beta for quite a while, so there were a bunch of veteran beta players around and naturally they were practically invincible; they were allowed to keep everything they got in beta.

I was in this one area and there were a whole bunch of people around all killing each other. These two guys were just walking down the path in the middle of all this, and no one attacked them. They were both carrying crossbows (of Vanquishing no doubt) and everyone could just tell they were beta veterans and those bows would’ve one-shotted anything in the game. You could see everyone’s chat bubbles then and one of them said to the other as they were walking by all this madness, ‘The good old days.’

Another unforgettable experience was seeing a huge train in EverQuest. When EverQuest first came out if you aggroed something it wouldn’t stop chasing you, no matter how far you ran. It didn’t take long for someone to figure out they could start running around aggroing things and create a huge train of monsters following them, which they would lead to some victim where the train would switch aggro and kill that person. Pretty hilarious the first time you see it, unless you’re the victim. They patched it out after a while, and I don’t think any other game made that mistake again.

But I think the most fun I had in gaming is a commentary on gaming today and the subject of the article. I bought many games for my Commodore 128. Almost every one was a completely new experience (when I managed to buy some sort of decent controller, went through many controllers over the years). Developers were trying everything they could think of in games and were avoiding doing what other developers were doing, not copying them.

No one was buying up studios and killing the creative spark. That’s the problem with gaming today and it’s only going to get worse if Sony and Microsoft buy up all the game developer studios, if they all take direction from Sony they will all be doing the same things. There will be no more creative spark and the games will be a homogenised mess of the same old things over and over.

Instead of looking for something new that works, now there is too much looking for something old that worked, to copy. Firing up a brand new game on my Commodore 128 was always a thrill because I never knew what to expect.

By reader Glenn

The reader’s features do not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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