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Well where do you start. Everyone has that memory of the very first time they remember becoming hooked on Video Games. As this is a Classic Video Games site when we are talking about Video Games we are talking about the era from 1978 to approx 1985. This is considered by most to be the Classic Age of Video Games. We are talking about an age before you could get any decent kind of game at home, on either a console, or a computer.

Video Games were confined to the Arcade. Invariably the cabinets were in the corners of dark, dinghy, smelly basements. It all felt illicit and as if you were part of some underground movement.

The first video game I ever remeber playing was on a home system when I could only have been around 9 or 10 years old. We visited some family friends who were considerably richer than us, and their son had a TV pong console. I remember watching Sportsnight on the TV and then playing Pong for hours......I was hooked, and I had been allowed to stay up late to boot. The next day I wanted a TV Game, of course I did not get one, such was life as a kid.

The next time I came across video games it was to be the Real McCoy. At school I was part of the gym squad. Towards the end of summer term we were allowed to go on a field trip to Swanage in Dorset to a sort of summer camp. While we were camping near this seaside town on the South Coast our group had to take part in some orienteering, being useless at it we ended up at the seafront.

To our delight we were allowed to have some free time on the front as we were there anyway. This is back in the seventies you have to remember and child abduction and paeodophiles and the like were more or less unheard of, so roaming free was not an issue.

We headed straight for the noisy seafront arcades which had a collection of one armed bandits, drop the penny and pinball machines. However what I found instead were some new fangled video games. I did not even look at the pinball machines. Looking over older boys shoulders I could see the flickering vector graphic screens and knew I had to have a go.

I found an empty game, put my money in, the rest is history!!!!!!!!!

Tailgunner

Tailgunner screenshots

If memory serves me correctly, the game was Tailgunner. A simple vector based game. 10p after 10p left my hand and found its way into the tin in the bottom of the cabinet. Eventually the tinny sound of coins hitting the bottom changed to the sound of coin dropping on coin dropping on coin. I had used all my money, the time had flown by and I had a glazed look over my bloodshot eyes. I was and have ever since been hooked on Video Games.

Tailgunner & Boot Hill

A couple of early 'Classic' cabinets

The next day all I could think about was getting back into the arcades. As luck would have it we were back in Swanage for another part of our field trip. If my memory is correct it was town planning or something equally boring but again we found ourselves at the seafront and soon found our way to the arcades.

I hit Tailgunner again and was far better than last time, which just spurred me on more and more. I migrated to a different cabinet flush with my mastery of Tailgunner.

Boot Hill

The seminal Boot-Hill

Boot-Hill would become my next fix. When my money began to run out I borrowed some off a friend and eventually resulted in hanging around the fruit machines to see if anyone had left change in the trays by accident. This would become a common occurance in the years ahead.

Night Driver & Sprint

Night Driver & Sprint screenshots

I then progressed to Sprint and Night Driver two more early coin-op games. They consumed the last remnants of my dwindling cash supply.

Eventually I was skint, my eyes hurt, my heart was racing and to this day what I remember most about that field trip to Swanage was the first contact that I had made with an arcade, I was hooked baby there would be no going back, my life was to change forever!