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Growing Up Geek - My Introduction to Video Games

Growing Up Geek by Joey Paur

I have spent a lot of my youth and adult life playing video games. It amazes me how far video game technology has come. As I said in my first Growing Up Geek post, I was born the same month and year that Space Invaders came out. It wasn't until I was 5 years old that I got my first taste of video game awesomeness, though. 

It was 1983, and it was a time when I was hanging out with my Grandpa a lot. He watched me while my mom and dad worked. There was a little cafe that had recently opened up near his house, and one morning he took me out to breakfast there. 

The name of the place is Ogie's, and it's still there today. I remember walking in through the front door and passing by this big, weird-shaped box with a TV in it. From the moment I saw it, I couldn't take my eyes off of it. This game was Pac-Man, and as I sat there eating my chocolate donut for breakfast and drinking my hot chocolate, I just stared at the box with the colorful yellow character and ghosts.  

I finally asked my grandpa what it was, and he told me it was a video playing machine. I'm sure I gave him a very perplexed look, and he asked me if I wanted to play it. I was thinking to myself "I can play this thing? How in the world do I do that!?" Of course I said yes, and he reached into his pocket and gave me a couple of quarters. 

I took them, got up, and sheepishly walked over to the game as my grandpa sat there to finish his food. As I walked up to the thing I looked up, and it just seemed so huge and intimidating. I could barely see the screen. A waitress came over with a little box to stand on and said to me, "Here you go, sweetie." I stood up on the box and said thank you. 

The screen was full of color and I watched in awe as this little yellow circle was eating dots in a maze and being chased by ghosts. I grabbed the joystick for the first time and fidgeted with it for a bit as I watched the game do its thing. I looked down and saw two little slots in the machine and then I looked at the quarters my grandpa had given me. I used my brilliant common sense and put the quarter in the slot. The game made a little "balloink" sound, then I saw a button and pushed it.

All of a sudden I was thrust into action! I took the joystick and panickedly started moving the joystick around, eating dots and trying to avoid the villainous ghosts. At one point I ate one of the big dots, and the ghosts turned blue and ran away from me. I didn't understand what that meant at first, but through trial and error I learned pretty quickly. I died pretty quickly as well.

After I died, I quickly inserted the second quarter and played again. I was better the second time around, I stayed alive a little bit longer, and I was hooked. After the second game ended I turned around to find my grandpa standing behind me smiling. He said it was time to go, so we left. All I wanted to do was play again, and I talked my grandpa's ear off about it on the way home. 

The next day, guess what happened? My grandpa took me to the same place, handed me four quarters, and let me play the game again. He took me here all the time for a couple of years and during that time I became a Pac-Man master! I freakin' love that game, and whenever I see it I have to play it. 

I recently went to that place again while I was visiting where I grew up, and it really took me back. Pac-Man has since been replaced by one of those money eating claw machines. There's obviously have very special place in my heart for Pac-Man. It was the only game I knew about for years until one year I went to Disneyland where they had an arcade full of awesome games! 

When we got back from the trip my cousin and I found an arcade right across the street from where I had been playing Pac-Man all those years. 

Pac-Man is the game that brought me into the gaming world, and I've been a fan of playing video games ever since. What was your first video game experience!?

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