My first steps in computing were, I suspect, similar to many others in my peer group:
10 type 'The Godmother is Ace'
20 goto 10
I'd tried the girly stuff (ballet, horses, Jackie) and I wasn't comfortable with it. Dad was working for a large US company with a UK presence and was into technology like most middle-aged blokes were and still are. We got a ZX-80 about two weeks after they were released, a sizable investment at the time. Before this we'd worn out and got bored of several Pong-style games and an Atari plug-in TV console (you remember Missile Command and that bloke who dodged crocs while swinging from a very pixely vine?) However, the Sinclair was different. And it was *tiny* for something that would prove to be such a life changer. I think my husband eventually sold that ZX-80 on Ebay for about the same amount of money my dad first paid for it. Somehow that doesn't seem right.
My brother, as I recall, began to spend a lot of time playing 'Space Invaders' when we went to the seaside. It wasn't long beforeI began to join him (though my game of choice was 'Galaxians') The die had been cast.
I was a Gamer.
After that, my love of the chips and motherboards moved away from the building and programming, and veered heavily towards the gaming. Yes, I badgered my family for a BBC B and quite amazingly I got one. Yes, I played 'Elite' for *hours* and was rubbish (no I never worked out how to dock properly and had to suffer the indignity of getting my younger brother to do it for me) he in turn was the owner of a brand new Commodore 64 and became quickly obsessed with 'The Lords of Midnight', despite the fact it took about a week to get anywhere. (yeah, so what if you're facing east and the sun's just risen, where's the *adventure*?) My mum started her own business soon after the Apple IIe was released and while I was in the later years of Secondary School, and suddenly because we were computer literate the gaming stopped and the programming/learning started, enough to set both my parents on a path to leaders in print and visual design using both PC's and Macs. They've retired now, and it's not a total surprise that my husband and my brother took over the business with the remaining management.
My first experience with a PC was using the fledgling version of That Bill Gates Program, editing artwork a pixel at a time. I also remember when the software that cut the vinyl my mum was selling to anyone who'd stick it on their car/van/lorry shipped with a program called Corel 1.0.
Things change really quickly, you know.
At University I met a bloke who I discovered wrote Acorn programmes as one of his many and various talents. Therefore, it wasn't long before our joint pay cheques bought a new Commodore Amiga, and more games than you could shake a game-covered stick at. There are too many memories to list here, but I'll give you a few of the highlights:
My husband and I spent days beating up Screamers for Screamer Slices in 'Dungeon Master' and that all elusive level up.
Godzilla roaming through my Simulated City, or aliens, or sometimes both.
Selling my soul to Sid Meier each time a new release hit the shops.
Throwing axes at Nordic maiden's pigtails to release her from bondage in 'Heimdall'
God Mode ('aaaaahhhh') in 'Rise of the Triad' (otherwise known as 'Day of the Tinpots' by the people who played on the ropiest LAN network known to Mankind)
'We're running out of elements!' and any other sample I can recall from 'Mega-lo-Mania'
The sheer joy of a WW1 Flight Sim, crackly B&W footage at the start and everything flying biplanes should be in 'Knights of the Sky'
'I am rubber, you are glue', Crazy Crypts, wandering around Monkey Island time and again and knowing SCUMM would change the gaming world forever.
Hating Mario because you knew you were rubbish at platformers (something that has never changed)
... and too many memories of late nights, tired eyes and cries of horror at Guru Meditation or Blue Screen of Death happenings.
Oh, and I never really got the Llamas.
Plus, truth be known, we didn't buy our first PC to get onto the Internet via a nice bloke running his business out of a cinema basement in Southend. We bought it to play Lucasarts' 'Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis' which was on special with the machine when we bought it.
To say that my life has been shaped by games would be something of an understatement.
There are lots of games, computers and consoles in this house, of one kind or another. I'd played 'Diablo' since launch, went out especially to buy 'Diablo II' on release. I indulged almost constantly in the last few months of my first pregnancy and beyond, and when my son got past the sleepless nights and I really began to appreciate the benefits of early nights my gaming waned for the first time in over 20 years.
Until, that is, 'World of Warcraft' came along.
I knew about the online gaming phenomena, of course I did, having played 'Ultima' before it was Online. Nothing I'd seen really appealed, nothing that I wanted to spend effort on when so much of my time needed to be in other places. However, a bad second pregnancy and mental illness forced me off my feet. 'Diablo II' got reinstalled on my PC and before my daughter was born I started looking at Warcraft, and then I *knew*. I knew the moment I got the game I'd be hooked, and that gaming would become a part of my life again.
I was right, of course. I just had absolutely no idea how much it would change me, and how important a part of my life it would become.
My daughter is about to share her 10th Birthday with the Game and my time in Azeroth, and my son is now in his fifteenth year. I've taken my first tentative steps into a larger world with a complete site redesign, my first forays into serious Fiction. I am a part of THREE separate Podcast endeavours.I may even give Game Design a punt this year, the possibilities really are endless.
Frankly, the only restriction I have is myself.
-- January 2015.