When I was young, I was lucky enough to play such classics as Super Mario World, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Donkey Kong Country. The colorful worlds and animated protagonists appealed to me as a child; the cartoon-like visuals brought a sense of whimsy to the whole package. It also stood as an assured reminder that this wasn’t real. Like cartoons, the images that scrolled across the television were just an imaginative mind’s concoction brought to fruition. Many games back in the 16-bit era were not intended to be a reflection of real life. Even games made about actual beings were over exaggerations of their original inspirations.
However, I knew from gaming magazines like Tips and Tricks, Electronic Gaming Monthly and, my favorite, GamePro that there were also games made for computers, these machines I would sometimes use at school or at the Boys and Girls Club. I personally didn’t care for most of the games these computers had. This was most likely due to the fact that they were old Apple II’s and Commodore 64’s. I remember playing Oregon Trail but nothing else. Most of them didn’t work and these old PCs were too complex for an average 8 year old to comprehend.
Soon, I realized the age of these devices and found out that newer computers played games like Test Drive, and SimCity. I had never seen these games before but their descriptions and screenshots made them seem much more superior and at a higher level than I was. I did get to try some newer computers at the Boys and Girls Club, under their 5th Dimension area, but all they had was a computer version of Othello and Mario is Missing.
One day, I happened to be visiting my cousin Ricky and he had a PC. He started to play a game and I was surprised and scared at what I saw. Everything was in the perspective of the player, the level looked real like in a movie and the enemies were these scary monster things. They would appear out of nowhere, ferociously attack you and they looked disgusting and menacing. This was no fantasy, this was reality. This was no dream, it was a nightmare. Of course, I’m talking about Doom, one of the most inspirational games ever. For a young child, however, it was a scary game that I couldn’t control. The keyboard buttons I needed, Shift, Control, Alt, and Space, seemed too far away for my hands. The directional buttons were on the right side instead of the left side like a controller would be. That really messed with my head. I never got used to it or should I say I never had the time to get used to it. The point is that Doom was the first PC game I ever “played”.
Later that year and in the following years, I would hear about PC gaming more and more, with magazines and people raving about Myst, Quake and other games. My cousin even got SimCity 2000 later and I was able to see him play it (my cousin was older than me, you know how it is). While I played my SNES, kids in my class would talk about how the played the latest cutting edge game on the most advanced platform for the medium. While I was overjoyed with Yoshi’s Island, I still was curious about the epic fantasy presented in Hexen. I never got to play these games until much later, which brings me to my question that I want to ask those who did play PC games back in the 90s.
HOW THE HELL DID YOU AFFORD TO BUY A PC!?
Seriously, my family didn’t get a PC until I was 13 years old. That was in 2000. We were barely able to pull off used consoles that were usually priced between 100 to 200 dollars. Later in the late 90s, old consoles became real cheap so I was able to finally start a collection but PC’s were in the thousands of dollars. How did your parents afford that, let alone a PC that was strong enough to run the latest games? This has completely baffled me and there are many people who have fond memories of building their cities in SimCity and playing against their friends in Quake.
The quick answer is that all of you had well off parents but I have a hard time believing that so many of you would be in that situation. The reason I only had a few games when I was young was because games are expensive. For a entertainment medium that’s supposedly for children, software is extremely pricey. PC is even more of a premium price. That falls higher than the 3DO or Neo Geo (of which back in the day I used to call ‘Rich Boy Systems’. My uncle’s a nurse and he had a Neo Geo so that idea made sense). Was there internet cafés back then that I never heard of? Did all of you have at lease one friend who had a PC you could play on? HOW DID YOU DO IT!?
Nowadays, I have Doom 1 – 3, Quake 1-4, Half-Life 1 and 2, Unreal, Sam and Max and all these titles on my PC and right now, with me being in a financial tight situation, my PC is my main source for video games. Quite the shift in perspective, to be sure. I’ve been able to enjoy the PC games of yore thanks to platforms like Steam. I can even relive my console memories thanks to emulation (although there’s nothing like the originals). I may not share my PC brethren’s childhood memories but I’ll always be fascinated by their very existence. I’m just glad to be able to experience this titles now. I’m still missing a SimCity game, now that I think about it…
Comment and let me know how you were able to game as a kid on a PC. Was there a PC café in your area? Seriously, please tell me. I want to know. Make sure to check out Gaming Precision for more editorials like this as well as news and reviews.
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