Pixel Perseverance

Published on 20 April 2023 at 14:23

Am I right to cling on to past joys or should I just grow up and search for something more fitting for a 41 year old?


Like many a school age soul before me, I was intent on finding out just what ticks my boxes. There weren't many boxes, just a few simple needs of an easily distracted 10 year old pubescent wee lad:


Box 1 – Knowing what was for tea;


I was usually very content with fish fingers, chips and beans and a 15p Choc-Ice for dessert, you know those ones where you nearly always get part of the wrapper rolling round your mouth at some point. I'm pretty sure the wrapper was better for you than the cheapo choccy.


Box 2 – Making sure I had a football team to support;


As a kid, there's usually not a lot of rational thinking going on to fuel sound decision making. I don't mean to tar all kids with the same brush (most of us air-headed delinquents didn't fully know what a brush was), and yes, there were a few clever clogs with snotty smiles that thought a little deeper, but my thinking didn't go much beyond colours, visuals and level of coolness.


Did I go with the team that had TopMan blasted across their fronts that I'd kept seeing in Shoot magazine (90's Leeds Utd)? Or that outfit with the weird abbreviated name (SO'TON) that no one seems to care about much (Southampton)?


Or the swashbuckling flaky bunch of misfits that I watched win the FA Cup in 1991 with my grandparents. We had a winner. Tottenham Hotspur was my team (still love the name to this day).


Forever flaky Spurs


Box 3 – Managing playground playmates;


Playtime was all about keeping up appearances and picking and choosing any given day's hide and seekers, kiss chasers or tag dodgers (we called it Tiggy, which we felt was a nationwide title and found it bizarre when we met kids from schools 3 miles over that called it something truly foreign).


There was a girl who was a bit snooty and loud, another lass who was good natured and giggly but I was mildly concerned about the small cluster of warts on her knees, there was another Matthew whom I'd not spoken to but was understood to own a life-changing device perhaps?


I think there was a yet another female for who I was waiting for a clue that she was indeed alive; to utter a noise or speak in some basic human way, a gentle snotty sniff up, a nervous squeak. Anything!


Box 4 – To keep control of my ever rising excitement of video games that'd make me go 'goggly-eyed' (as my wonderful grandma would've said);


I was drawn to this super fast blue blur that shot around, jumping off stuff and rescuing little cutsey animals from futuristic giant capsules and who was at constant war with a bloated, cackling maniac sporting a superbly maintained moustache and rather fetching goggles.


And the world they lived in? A colourful twisty world of zones; Greenhill Zone, Marble Zone, Labyrinth Zone, Chemical Plant Zone, Casino Zone and the like. It seemed almost real to me. I wondered how far it stretched. (Not far probably seen as 16-bit is pretty damn limited by today's standards). Nevertheless I was enthralled.


Later on and a few games under my belt, I discovered flawless victories and fatalities, awesome soundtracks to side scrolling Beat 'em ups, insane slam dunks from world famous cartoon basketball stars, being chased around a supersized mansion with zombie dogs chomping at my heals, kicking ass and chewing bubble gum while slaying pig cops with a pump action smokin' shotgun.


Video games' tentacles were entwining around my impressionable brain cells. And in some capacity – they're hanging on for dear life.


I fell hard for Capcom's Playstation classic, Resident Evil


You may surmise that video games – generally on consoles, not PC (I've owned quite a few consoles, PC games were something that were a bit foreign to me even though they enhanced the games considerably) – have always been part of what my thoughts have been drawn to.


When I was big-headed kid it was all about the consoles or the basketball or the football. In fact a typical Saturday with the other Matthew (by which point I was now on speaking terms with and had seen, with my very own goggly-eyes, his life-changing device – of course the Mega Drive).


“I discovered flawless victories and fatalities. Video games' tentacles were entwining around my impressionable brain cells”


As with most young guys and gals, I was certainly no expert when it came to the wonder of graphical wizardry but if I could shoot it, race it, smack it, score it, ogle it, dunk it or call it vile names then I was in my pocket of escapism. I believe that the hold that these ever improving games had on me then have left a small imprint on me to this day.


The 16-Bit beast, the Mega Drive. All hail the king.


I was often told to grow up and leave these games alone, 'They're for kids and they rot your brain'. I suppose I was meant to be doing something more advanced for my teenage years like gargling cheap cider and setting fire to my lungs with delicious Hamlet cigars in the park copping disapproving looks from tutting pensioners. (I did find time for that).


“Man, we didn't half bang those buttons”


I never read, back then. In fact it's only in the last couple of years that I've even entertained the idea. But I just needed to absorb stories in a more appealing way. The feeling of a 6-button control pad lightly sweating in my palms replacing the inky curls of the written word on fluttering pages.


And it really could be an expensive habit; my dad once spent £59.99 on Street Fighter 2 Champion Edition for me one Xmas. SIXTY QUID! In the early nineties. I'm pretty sure you could buy an Austin Metro for that.


A toy version of Street Fighter 2's RYU


All to find out if RYU was capable of smashing the hell out of a flaunting bit of skirt from China (sorry, an attractive young Asian lady) or whether a wild green mutated man-beast from Brazil (yep, wild, green mutated man-beast) could out fox a stretchy weirdo from India. Man, we didn't half bang those buttons.


The NES, an 8-Bit classic


There are millions of people in the world today scrabbling about for a bit of time on Call of Duty, MarioKart and Fortnite. People aged from talking age to the retired veterans of the game of life.


The beauty of gaming is that you can dress it up or dab it down, take it seriously – and in some cases earn wads of cash – or just to pass the time with your mates or kids. I've come to believe that video games are anything but brain rot, I believe they keep us sharp and somewhat in tune with the youth.


Not to mention helping shy or more housebound individuals build a bit of social confidence (my disabled nephew would be certainly lost without them).


So, do I need to grow up? Should I leave the games to the kids? I'm going to throw you a bit fat no on that. Video games are a multi billion pound industry and are part of our daily culture. Don't fight it.


Now, my pad's charged up, I've secured my out of date Pringles and I'm going to let my darkened room fill with evolving B.O and shoot some cheeky monsters. After all they're not going to shoot themselves.


Classic Mega Drive Cartridges

Everybody knew that with any game that suddenly froze or refused to work correctly, then the most obvious solution was to give it a violent blow underneath.

Problem solved.

Age is but a number

The stigma that games are just for kids is now perhaps a worn out way of thinking. 

They're here to stay, so play away.

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