Monday, 16 December 2013

A gaming Christmas - Part one of two - 1980s

I’m Dreaming of a Gaming Christmas - By David Campbell
“T'was the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse”.
Except the mice of parents frantically trying to find an Xbox One or PS4 for their children!
Christmas has traditionally been the time that us gamers were gifted with the latest delights; pocket money and early jobs didn’t afford us the luxury of saving for such things – they were way beyond our price range. Most parents, if they could afford it, would buy the console their child lusted after, guaranteeing a smile on their loved ones faces. Their kindness was generally rewarded by said loved one promptly locking themselves in their bedroom, only venturing out for snack based sustenance and occasional loo breaks.
Christmas is always a magical time, but when you’re a kid with the potential of opening a new console, Christmas Eve is the longest night in history. Lying in bed, willing yourself to get to sleep so the hours would pass until “Santa had been”. The memories of Christmas, especially when receiving a new console as a kid, seem to remain more vivid. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share some of my favourite Christmas memories.
Christmas 1981
A little background to this one first. I was 5 years old in 1980, and my dad and I used to go to the local video store (Hollywood Video in Roseburn Edinburgh if you’re interested!). He would pick a movie for my mum and him, and I would be allowed to pick a cartoon or kids film. One day, whilst perusing the Tom n Jerry collections, I happened upon a different movie. This was called “Pac Man”, and the video was in a different box. I asked my dad what it was, and he didn’t know, so the owner explained it was a game, for this new thing called an Atari 2600. 

For £2 per night, you could rent the system and a game. I was sold. I don’t think I ever rented a cartoon again – I saved all my pocket money and used to get the Atari once every week or two. We got to know the owner pretty well, and he used to show me all the carts through the back of the shop – I was in heaven!
Fast forward a year, and Christmas day. I ran from my room to the living room, where my presents were laid out for me on the sofa. An array of colourful parcels, all shapes and sizes. I opened them all in what seemed like 10 minutes, to be surrounded by a mountain of shredded paper and a neatly stacked pile of gifts, ready to be played with.
At this point, my mum mentioned that she produced a present that “Santa must have forgotten” from the side of her chair. It was huge. I opened it hungrily, near passing out with excitement.
It was an Atari 2600 console. My very own. And it came with Pac-Man!
It didn’t end there, though – after carefully explaining to my hyper 5 year old brain that these were only on loan, she produced another large box. It contained literally every game that Hollywood video owned. The shop closed over Christmas (as they did back then!), and the owner had given the whole stock to my mum and dad for me to play. I almost expired on the spot! Even though I was only 5, I still remember that like it was yesterday, and it was 33 years ago!

Part two - into the 1990s continues here:

Guest Blog by David Campbell

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