So many of you have asked me to go ahead and blog about video games and their impact on my in the 1980’s. So it shall be. For the new generation, I own a PS3 and play it on a regular basis. Love it. That said, if you were born in 1990 or later the following blog may not mean much to you. As for the rest of us, it strikes a deep sense of the way things used to be. Here we go.
I’ll be honest, growing up we didn’t have a lot of money. Instead of scooping up all of the great video games at the time of their release, I was stuck with wondering what a lot of them were like. Back in the 1980’s you couldn’t Google or Youtube a game. You went on the occasional magazine, word of mouth from friends and cover art. I’ve said in an earlier post that Star Wars was the reason I fell in love with science fiction, and that’s the truth. My roots in writing, however, began with video game cover art from the 1980’s.
As I said before, I really couldn’t afford to rush out and scoop up the new games when they hit the store shelves. Instead, I would look at the various covers the entire time my Mom was doing the shopping. Literally memorizing the cover art. Once at home, I would sketch it back out(which by the way looked terrible) and then begin to write out a short story based on what I thought the game was about. I guess this qualifies as a beginning in the field of writing, although I never saw myself doing it as a full-time job.
Let’s face it, Atari 2600 put video games on the map and for the most part they were terrible. Classics aside, Atari 2600 games don’t stand the test of time very well. That said, some of the the best cover art to date came from that time period. Swordquest is a prime example. The game played terrible, moving a stick man through a maze of colored rooms that looked identical. That’s putting it lightly. Still, the cover made you feel as though you were engulfed in a blockbuster fantasy movie.
Nintendo came next. Doing a MUCH better job with game mechanics, a lot of the classics still compete today. I own an original NES and play the hell out of it on a regular basis. Contra, Zelda, Mike Tyson’s Punchout and Double Dragon to name a few. However, the first game to stand out in terms of box art for me was Dragon Warrior. I remember playing that game to the bone at my friend’s house.
Always the last kid on the block to get a game, the entire year of 1989 I begged and pleaded my case for the Sega Genesis. It hadn’t even released yet, but the Sears Catalog had a preview of it(for a paltry $299) and I had to have it! I’m pretty sure that based on the promised chores I gave back in 1989, I am still in debt to my mom this very day. My brother and I were the first kids on the block to own one and it was nothing short of badass. So many classics in Altered Beast, Revenge of Shinobi, Phantasy Star and Moonwalker to name a few. However the one that stands out to me(cover art people!) was Golden Axe. I love that game to this day!
The truth is these very games put me on the path to professional writing and I think it shows with the Gunship series on Amazon Kindle. It took a long time to write it, but it was VERY important to get the cover right. I sort of felt like I owed it to the covers which had influenced me to begin writing in the first place. Of course, there were all kinds of things that eventually got me here. But deep down, I will always know that without the cover art of the 1980’s I would be doing something else.
I could go on for hours about the goodness of video games in the 1980’s. Cocktail tables with Space Invaders built in, Tron(great movie btw), the first time I used the epic fail known as R.O.B. the robot on the original Nintendo. What about plugging in a set of headphones to the Sega Genesis, the Turbo Grafx 16 system or my all time favorite. The Sega Master System! This blog as been a walk in time for me, and I hope everyone reading stops for a moment to remember their favorite 80’s gaming memory. If so, comment and share it. Thanks for reading!
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