Your first gaming memories, collected


You had to ask.

My older brother and I (mostly him) built a Motorola 6800 computer system from scratch in 1976-1979, based on the woefully incomplete MEK6800D1 board. We rigged up a dot display using two cheesy 8 bit DACs for X and Y values going into our Heathkit oscilloscope, and he wrote code to display a Space Wars style game on it.

At one point, he even made it display in 3D using stereoscopic techniques.

As for real video games, working at the Byte Shop in 1978 exposed me to the best of 8 bit gaming. I loved Breakout on the Apple ][.

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Sammy the Sea serpent. Loading that thing off of the cassette took what seemed like an eternity.

Killer Shark, Phoenix, Battlezone, and a handheld ice-hockey game where the screen consisted of a handful of red LEDs.

I remember the Empire Strikes Back on the 2600. The game was impossible, the AT-ATs inevitably made it to the edge of the screen, however it had this system where every so often a single pixel would flash on the AT-AT, and a single hit there would destroy it. Given the slippery controls and the need to dodge blaster fire constantly it was pretty hard to hit those critical hit spots, so they weren’t too game breaking.

However, due to the incredibly limited hardware on the 2600, the crit spots appeared at the same location on every AT-AT at the same time. If you were lined up just right when they appeared, you could race across the screen and blow up a bunch of them at once. This was super hard to pull off, but finally doing it once is one of my earliest gaming memories.

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and my first portable game which is now available as an android app:

It was 1976 or 1977. I was 6 years old. My family was in a pizza joint and there was a Space Invaders machine. I begged my dad for a quarter. He gave me one and I went to the machine. I was barely tall enough to see the screen and work the controls. I also didn’t know where to put the quarter in. Some dirt bag kid came over and offered to “help”. He took my quarter and started playing it himself. When I told him to let me play, he blew cigarette smoke in my face. I went back to my dad who came over to kick the dirtbag off and let me play a few more times.


I’m not sure which came first chronologically, but two early memories stand out:

  1. Buck Rogers on the Vic-20
  2. A simple game where you shoot pins at balloons (I think), to try to make the little cartoon figure holding the balloons drop. The most distinctive part of the memory is that it was played on a cassette tape drive. I’m not 100% sure if it was a commercially released game or homebrew.

Atari 2600 - Pitfall. I loved that game. I also remember getting an NES. I love Super Mario and Duckhunt. That laughing dog was the best.

And how has no one posted this yet?:

Oh, I do remember my dad got obseesed with Tetris after we got the Nintendo. He played it so much, he wore a hole in his thumb… Good times.

I remember the first video game I ever played was Carnival at a Show Biz pizza.

ETA - later I got a Sears version of the Intellivision. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons was my favorite game.


Show Biz Pizza! That place seemed like a fairy land we could never visit… I don’t think there was one in my hometown.

Now every time my nieces and nephews want to have a party at it’s successor chucky cheeses, I seriously consider self-termination… That place is what I imagine hell would be like for me, if I believed in it.

Venture on Colecovision is my first REAL memory. Even though my parents had the pong home system.

Probably this thing.

I broke the joystick off it eventually. Also had a nicer one that was a Galaga rip-off.

Edit: This one!

On computers, probably Repton 2 on the Electron.

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Hamurabi on my uncle’s computer. No idea what the computer was: this is '80, '82. Been hooked on civilization sims ever since.

Came here to say Advanced D&D for the intellivision, left with a little dust in my eye. But the most formative experiences were the first time I wrote a Sprite in basic for a C64, and the time I grokked just how broken Wizardry’s “save” system for the NES was.

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Breakout. It was so much easier to play with paddles than with a joystick

Zork, and a lot of the Infocom games.
Typing in basic code from inCider magazine.

We had a wireframe tank game for our TRS-80 III in 1980-81. I was only about 5 years old, but I learned how to load it from 5.25" floppy pretty quickly. Shortly after, my cousin, who lived next door, got an Atari 2600, and then I was off to the races.

Something like ‘20 questions’ on a video text terminal hooked into the UC Berkeley mainframe at the Lawrence Hall of Science, about 1975. Later I used their teletype machines to program in Basic on the same system.

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About 1972, the local college built a new student center, with a rec room full of pool tables. A few months after it opened, they installed a new standup arcade game called Pong. Hundreds of people crowded around, and lined up to try it themselves. It was several days before the line was manageable enough for me to try.

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