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April 22nd, 2013, 17:47
My gaming experience started when I had just started elementary school in the very late 80's, when I got caught up in all those cheap, handheld LCD games. Over the months, I pestered my parents and eventually they got me an Atari 2600, along with some cheap games. While I enjoyed playing around with it, I found the limitations of those games too narrow to entice me even as a kid. A classmate of mine had a C64, and I envied him for the better graphics and arguably more engaging gameplay of Pirates!, Last Ninja etc. , but I found it "hard to use" (it's only over the last ~8 years that I've started to be interested in the technological aspect of our hobby).

Soon I also added a Gameboy to my collection, which was again trumped by someone's NES and SNES systems. Shucks.

But not long after, and my dad brought home a 486DX/33. While I was not initially impressed (at that point I thought consoles to be vastly superior for gaming ), I was at least pleased that none of my acquaintances had a similar machine. I played some mildly amusing games, like Commander Keen, and took a liking to the "grown up" machine.
But it was only when I picked up an inconspicuous black box from a bargain bin that my passion for gaming really started taking off: that black box came contained a *gasp* sort-of-realistic cloth map. The game was Ultima VII.

I remember it was a bitch for me to get it to run back then, and I had to pester an IT guy acquaintance of my father for quite a bit until it worked. But I wasn't prepared for the virtual world that awaited me; I remember taking the first steps into Britannia, being awed by the subdued music, ambient sounds, and hand-crafted world, the pretty portraits that, for the first time, made NPC's more than faceless pawns to me. That's how I fell in love with RPG's; all other games I had played before seemed shallow, simplistic, immature (through the eyes of a 12 year old ). Loading times were pretty abysmal, and getting anywhere could take a lot of time, but I didn't care. The more time I spent in Britannia, the better. I was living in a very small rural town, and there wasn't anything going on around me that could take a hold of me like this game did. It's single-handedly responsible that during my youth, the PC was - for better or worse - the biggest time-sink in my life.
It might be an indication of my naivety, but I couldn't find any fault with UVII. It takes forever to load when taking three steps? Well sure, it's a complex world, so it takes long. I also never patched that game so I strongly suspect I must have fallen victim to the "disappearing keys" bug; I remember never being able to finish that game. But back then, I thought that "bugs" (didn't know that term yet) would always manifest themselves in the game crashing completely, not in something subtle like keys disappearing from your backpack. I thought I'd just messed up. Oh well.

To cut a long story short, I have stayed with PC gaming over all these years, the only exception being a PS3 I got ~2 years ago. I started gaming during the heyday of great RPG's like Ultima, Dark Sun, Lands of Lore, and it's only now that I'm as excited as I used to be with the RPG making such a refined comeback.
The only thing I "miss", in certain ways, is reading the old print gaming magazines. Sure, I could simply buy them nowadays, but it's just not the same, due to 1) games journalism not being the same and 2) the internet providing all the information, and then some, that you could ask for.




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