I was browsing Reddit earlier today,and I found a post asking the users of Reddit what the first video game they ever played was.
Occasionally you get some amazing questions like this. It’s fascinating to look at the cross section of people who spend time in similar communities to yourself.
Thousands of people had already replied with theirs, and hundreds had already listed mine: Super Mario Bros. But I decided to comment anyway, “it couldn’t hurt to list another person as having started with that particular game.”
I started planning out my post (I try to avoid single sentence replies like “me, too” as they don’t really add anything to the conversation. I ended up typing out an answer that I figured would work well as a blog post. So, here we go: my first video game experience, ever.
Boxing day, 1990 – my little brother an I are presented with a huge box.
It’s your last Christmas present. But you have to share it.
My brother and I tear the wrapping paper off of the thing… It’s a box with “Nintendo” written on the side and pictures of a grey box sitting under a television with “Nintendo Entertainment System” written on it.
My brother and I share a look. We’re mystified. I look at my parents, with a big smile and ask if I can open the box.
A little background information here (that wasn’t in the Reddit post), we never used to get gifts on Boxing day. Boxing day is my Mum’s birthday, so we were both perplexed as to why we got a Christmas gift on Mum’s birthday. I kept asking whether it was Mum’s birthday gift, and if we were allowed to open it.
Go ahead, Jamie.
I slowly, and with great precision open the box. My brother and I peer into the box. He reaches in and pulls out a grey rectangle, about the size of an iPhone. It has a long, black wire coming out of it. I reach in and pull out a monstrosity of a thing. It’s huge, grey, has a joystick on it and two massive red buttons. We set these aside and keep excavating.
My brother takes out a power plug with a long, black cable. I pull out a long black cable that has a strange adapter on either end. We look at each other, then take out the large grey box – the last item.
There’s a hatch on the front!
I say in surprise
Open it up, see what’s inside.
The hatch opens with a squeak. There’s a long, grey thing inside. I press it down, there’s a clicking noise as the hatch releases and the cartridge springs up. I’m worried that I’ve broken it. I look at my brother. We both look at my parents.
It’s meant to do that, don’t worry. Take it out and see what it is.
I slide the cartridge out and read the title.
Super Mario Bros. slash Duck Hunt?
My brother finds the gun adapter (my parents had forgotten to wrap it) and starts running around the living room shooting things.
Shall we turn it on and see what happens?
A few moments later, it’s all plugged in. The controller is handed to me, and I pass it to my brother.
He’s littler than I am, he should try it first.
I say to my parents.
I’m put in charge of pushing the on/off switch. I look at my brother: he is extremely exited. He gives me a nod. I push the button.
I don’t think we did very much that day. While my brother was playing, I was sitting slack jawed, staring at the TV.
My brother loses his last life, and passes the controller to me.
I… How do I do it?
My brother shows me how to make Mario move.
Jump over the guy. He hurts you and you fall over.
We got to the first castle level together, helping each other out. The music [LINK for those who never played it] (in a minor key, I guess) makes my brother scared. We look at each other as the level begins.
We can do this.
I tell him.
It took us a few tries to figure out how you are meant to beat the “big dragon thing” (my brother’s description) at the end of the level.
Look! A big mushroom!
And so began my love affair with video games.
That following March, I got the TMNT NES game for my birthday. That game, more than anything else, is what my (then) 3 year old brother and I bonded over.