When I was a young and impressionable school boy, back in the early 80s, I used to read Computer and Video Games magazine, mainly because there was very little else to fuel my gaming obsession back then. Besides the pages and pages of code listings for games that would crash the minute you tried to run them after hours of typing, my most enduring memory of that magazine at the time was a man called Tony Takoushi. Tony was a man that was universally hated by every game player I knew back then, because no matter what the subject matter of his article, he would always manage to squeeze in a list of all the gaming hardware that he owned and that you, the reader, would never have access to. Tony took every conceivable opportunity to underline the fact that he had more video games than he knew what to do with, while you were saving up your paper round money in order to buy Sabre Wulf!
The reason that Iâ€™m bringing up Tony and his penchant for making video game fans feel inadequate, is that, Iâ€™m ashamed to say, Iâ€™m about to do something very similar. Well, only similar in as much as Iâ€™m going list lots of gaming hardware, but of course Iâ€™m doing it in the name of good journalism â€“ surely you wouldnâ€™t expect anything less!
Right now weâ€™re only a matter of weeks away from the console gaming market moving to the next generation of hardware platforms. The Xbox 360 is just around the corner and Iâ€™m fairly sure that there are many of you reading this who have already placed a deposit and will be queuing up in the dead of night outside your local video game store in order to have one of the first machines to go on sale. Thereâ€™s no doubt that itâ€™s an exciting time for video game enthusiasts, but when youâ€™ve been through this as many times as I have, I have to ask myself if the excitement is justified.
My first experience of console gaming was the Atari VCS, which did battle at the time with Mattelâ€™s Intellivision. Both consoles were extremely basic by modern standards, but a point worth noting is that if you think that Â£30 for a game is expensive today, think about how expensive that was in the late 70s! Most kids were lucky to see more than two or three games a year. In my school no one bought a game without first asking all theyâ€™re friends if they had it already â€“ the only way to ensure a large software library was to make sure that all your mates bought different titles, allowing the whole group to swap as necessary.
The next set of consoles like Vectrex and Colecovision never really got off the ground in the UK, because small and affordable micro computers arrived. The result was the classic mid 80s school playground battle between Sinclair ZX Spectrum owners and Commodore 64 owners. This battle was fierce and bloody, and Iâ€™ve never met any gamers from that era that didnâ€™t get involved in the conflict.