My very first computer, or gaming system of any kind for that matter, was an Atari 800XL. It took a mountain of crap to run software that could easily function on today’s average graphing calculator.
But web of tangled cords, minor electric shocks, and heat problems aside, I was thrilled when my father brought this baby home from one of his many weekend yard-sale runs.
Yes, I am a child of the eighties, but a late one. So by the time we got our dirt poor paws on a computer, it had already achieved relic status. But no matter.
That summer I was particularly bored with everything else I had going. I was ten years old, had just got my first pair of glasses, lived in a tiny house that got me sick most of the time, and hated my neighbors.
So — once I had played through all the awesomeness that was Pitfall, Adept, Qbert, Karateka, Lords of Conquest, and so on — I set to work reading one of the books that had come in the big cardboard box along with ‘Old Shockey.’
It was a tutorial on Atari Basic language, and right away I knew that I wanted to master it. I had been more enchanted with the bright colors and sounds — the power rush of moving a plastic stick and causing changes in the video I was watching — than any other experience before. Now I was hooked, and I wanted to discover the process from the inside out.
That summer, I managed to create one full game before Old Shockey finally fried. It was a spaceship duel made with ASCII (text) characters. I then dropped programming for a while, and returned to gaming with a new appreciation for what it took to make these wondrous experiences happen.