Community Service is a monthly article we do with out fans at Level Up Entertainment. Every month a question will be posed to YOU our loyal community and if you send in a response, you have a chance to be featured prominently here for all the world to see.
Everything starts somewhere. Gaming is no different. We all were introduced to the wonderful, weird world of video games in different ways. For some of us had older siblings or cousins who had a game system. Some of us grew up near an arcade. Some of us started with table top gaming. We all came into this dorky hobby in our own ways.
This month we ask: How did you get into gaming?
Dave J. Bailey: DJB Studios
Way back in the late 70's/early 80's, summers spent at the beach allowed me to spend HOURS and HOURS shoving quarters into machines like Pac-Man (which I'll have to admit has always been my favorite!) Donkey Kong, Q*Bert, Popeye, Frogger, the vectorized versions of Star Wars and Tron, the first digitally animated game Dragon's Lair and many others.
On the home front, home systems were released allowing us to bring these beloved games home. As primitive as they seem now, Atari's shabby 8-bit graphics wowed us when we first saw them on our double dial telly in the living room. Fighting over the joystick and that shabby paddle you'd use for driving games (where you were actually driving the screen, not the car, which was stationary in the middle of the screen)- You had E.T., and Pac-Man (which was NOTHING LIKE the arcade version) tons of sports, tanks and planes, Olympics, Defender, Yars' Revenge, Activision's Pole Position, Pitfall and Barnstormer, Drag racing and Stampede games stand out in my mind.
Atari gave way to Colecovision, where the graphics were better, the controller was EVEN MORE confusing, and games like Smurfs (Blech), Donkey Kong Junior, Zaxxon and Burger Time.
Then came the better systems. Genesis, NES, Super NES. I didn't have these, but friends did. After school, we'd play hockey, and Mario Kart. Later on the N64 and PS1 it was Starfox, Sonic, Super Mario Brothers, Golden Eye, Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot and others...the technology keeps getting better and better, but I can neither afford those systems, or have time to play all the long term commitment games they've released.
I DID have several Game'N'Watch LCD crystal display games and tabletop arcade units with mirrored surfaces. Then came the GAME BOY and PSP, which I currently have and play when I can, mostly playing Lego Games, Star Trek Games, the occassional sports, puzzle or music games...and of course GOOD OL' PAC-MAN...but, still am quite terrible.
Justin Rishell: Writer at hatebit.com
Gaming has always been a big part of my household. My parents and older brother owned a Bally, Commodore 64, Atari, and Colecovision. I got a chance to play a lot of the classic games before the NES became a reality.
One Christmas my brother got the NES along with the power pad and three games. Just like older siblings, he wouldn't share with his younger ones so all I can do is sit and watch amazing titles like Super Mario Bros., Castlevania, and Mega Man. My parents finally had a enough of us fighting over it so they bought me my own NES and it's been downhill ever since.
Gaming for me wasn't really an option for me, it was pretty much thrust at me from birth. I can remember back to being about 3 or so and booting old CoCo games on my pop's modified Tandy TRS-80, or the hearing the disjointed garbling of games like b-17 bomber from the Matel Intellivsion, but like most of my generation - my passion with video games took off with the release of the NES. Having an older brother had its advantages and it's disadvantages, but the major bonuses were that he would get all the cool games of the times like Ninja Gaiden or Final Fantasy. That way I wasn't just exposed to the kid oriented games, but it let me push out into realms that even at the time I probably didn't fully comprehend. Though with a little explanation from my brother or father, I gained an overall awareness of the adventures that laid before me.
Gaming probably took off the most for me when I played the first real RPGs on the system. Even as a younger child with barely a reading ability, games like Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, and - of course - Legend of Zelda fascinated me with their mystical creatures at the time and of course swords and magic. So while most people used books to draw themselves into far off lands, I got to do it visually with games, which in turn actually furthered my reading skills far into advanced placement in middle school. And they say video games rot your mind...
Travis Beard: The Wizard's Friend
The first game that I’ve really ever experienced was Rad Racer for NES. Being no older than four years old, it didn’t take much to impress me, but thinking back, something here was different.
Usually watching from afar, as my hands rarely touched the controller, I’d peruse the locales, as sister, cousin, or other random teenager would actually man the funpad. At the time I probably didn’t realize it, but it took me away from the present, and had my imagination running wild. From sunny desert road to… dark desert road, for as basic as it was, it was another world. It was set some place, not here. There is a man in that car, I saw him.
Rad Racer was able to permanently imprint itself into my brain, and without this rather young memory, I just don’t think I would see video games the way I do to this day.
Scott Fine: Resident Comic Reviewer (You should totally follow his Tumblr!)
I can scarcely remember a time before i played video games.
When I was young, we would always stop in the arcade when I had to be drug along for some errand or another. I was god awful at them and had to stand on two milk crates to even hope to touch the controls. My favorites at the time were Space Invaders, Frogger, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong but mostly Galaga.
I had played many of these one the primate home consoles at the time but they never could match the arcade versions. When I got a bit older my parents bought me a used NES towards the end of it's life cycle. I didn't care though, it came with a dozen or so games, some of which are still among my favorites. Ice Hockey, Super Mario Bros., Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jurassic Park, Balloon Fight and more! While some of them weren't so great I remember really cutting my teeth trying to master Mario Bros. and some of the most vivid memories I have of the era was fighting over who got to play USA in Ice Hockey. The loser would always pick the Soviet Union.
But my heart still belonged to the arcade. Around this time they were still leaps ahead of the consoles. I would go there and play Pinball games, light gun games but most of all the Beat 'em Up. They were co-operative so I could play with some friends or my dad and they were based on some of my favorite things at the time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Simpsons in particular. In fact the Simpsons arcade game is probably the first game I ever beat.
My dad and I would play it all the time (we were Homer and Bart respectively). We could get through about half the game on our allotted arcade fund before we would have to turn home. Then one day we walked into the arcade and someone had just died at the boss we couldn't beat. While the clock was ticking down we quickly popped our quarters in and picked up where those before us failed. It was great fun and the satisfaction of finally beating it was amazing. That was probably what really cemented me as a gamer.
Next month our topic will be: What is your favorite game console and why? Write up a paragraph or two description and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: "Community Service". The more well written your entry is, the more likely it will be chosen. Deadline is 7/31/12 at midnight EST.