From the Vault: Uses Joystick Controller

I'm sure it's an enormous surprise to learn that I've spent a lot of time recently thinking about games and gaming, so I've found myself looking through old blog posts for research, inspiration, and to confirm or deny that strange "I think I've written about this idea before…" tingle that's recently set up camp in my brain.

So here's something I found today, which may or may not find portions of itself rewritten for my PAX East Keynote, but should zap some of you Gen X gamers squarely in the happy place…

There are all these video games that remind me of the happiness of my childhood: Journey, Riddle of the Sphinx, and Dodge-Em on Atari 2600. The robot gyroscope game, Excitebike, and Super Mario Brothers (the turtle trick!) on NES are just a few. Writing about those, I can feel the orange shag carpet at the house in Sunland, the blue berber carpet in La Crescenta, and I can see the little television in my friend's bedroom where we played RC Pro-Am until we had "NES Thumb."

Do you associate certain games with certain arcades or places?

  • Donkey Kong will forever be associated with Verdugo Bowling Alley in La Crescenta, because that's where I first saw it. In fact, I thought it was some weird bowling game because the barrells on level one look like bowling balls, if you're nine years old and in a bowling alley.
  • Centipede will always be Shakeys Pizza in Tujunga, where this young couple in their 20s let me play their last man at the cocktail version because their pizza was ready, and Ms. Pac-Man will always be associated with this head shop in Sunland, where I got to the pretzel level on the first try.
  • Super Pac-Man, Defender, Gyruss, and Mouse Trap take me back to Sunland Discount Variety and Hober's Pharmacy (they've become interchangable in my memory) and Donkey Kong Country on SNES will always remind me of when I lived in Nice, France, during production of Mr. Stitch, and my brother and I beat it when my family came out to vist me for Christmas.
  • Crystal Castles is Alladin's Castle at the mall in Eugene, Oregon, during the filming of Stand By Me, and Burger Time and Tutankham will always remind me of the smell of chlorine and concrete, from the basement-level pool at the Eugene Hilton.

Funny, just writing about those places I can almost conjure up sense-memories, like smells and other ephemeral things that I can't quite put into words but I can feel, but I can't quite make them out, like the boobie channel on cable in 1984 that was scrambled but would occasionally resove into view for two or three glorious seconds, which would be the subject of much discussion the next day at school.

Mmmmm… boobies.

151 thoughts on “From the Vault: Uses Joystick Controller”

  1. Mine will always be a sit down Donkey Kong at a Pizza Hut in Spokane WA. I was obsessed, not only could I play the game – but have my Dr. Pepper and Slice of Pizza within reach at all times.
    Or spending a bucket load of money on “Dragons Lair”, and the thing is I never ever got all that far into the game. But I pumped in quarter after quarter.

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