As far as I can remember I have always been fascinated with computer games, it goes back to the first one I was able to play. The memory is quite faint but it came back to me when I was discussing it with my girlfriend. I must have been around 8 or 9 it was the very beginning of the personal computer, I came across one when I went to visit my dad at his company.
The machine was sitting on a little desk next to his; the black and green screen was not the most appealing to the eye and the 5¼ disk had to be put in to load the operating system before you could put the next one in and launch the game.
There are two games that stuck in my mind, the hangman and some sort of space invader. Don’t ask me what the brand of the computer, as far as I know it might have been just a simple IBM PC. My dad then had the brilliant idea to buy one for home, it was an Commodore CPC 64 and even if the screen was still green there where different shades and the disks were replaced by a tape recorder included in the massive keyboard. The whole thing was brilliant, I spent countless hours in front of it playing and did a a little bit of programming. I had the honor of taking it one day to school, and when you were 12 and got the chance to show off a computer with and joystick and a flight simulator, a platform game (I think it was fruity loops) and some word processor, you were a star :-)
When we moved to Brussels I got my fist PC, the shade of color on screen was orange by now and you still had to use the disk to load up the DOS. By then it had started to become more common to come across these machines and being a typical boy I started to look inside, collect pieces that I could find in my dad’s office to improve my little splendor, the best of all was the 40mb hard drive, massive, heavy but such a wonder! By the age of fourteen I had the chance to order, through my dad’s company, some pieces I would need to have the perfect machine, better processor, a graphic card (3dfx Voodoo), and more important a color screen.
I build the whole thing in my bedroom, and for the following years I continually improved on it, changing the box, drive, mouse, keyboard… then I included a CD player, that was a turning point in games, no longer did you need to swap disks until the end of time before the installation was done. I remember that I used to play Dune a lot as the first strategy game that realty stuck in my mind as a great one and that I even manage to connect my computers with another but it was such a hassle to do. Even if I had a modem installed very early on, I didn’t have the opportunity to use it aside from the fun of connecting the phone on it to use the computer as a fax and answering machine. The first experience I had with the “net” was to connect to a BBS to download a demo of some kind. The trouble was that the server was in the US and the download took all night! Let just say that my mom was not happy…
Even if I had a chance to connect to the internet from home using the only provider that existed at the time, the content was not massive and not very intuitive. School years being over I had the chance to plug off for nearly a year as I was staying abroad in a family that had no computers and a very restricted computer park at the college I was going to. These were my years of role playing games on table top and as far as computer games are concerned Doom (1&2), Command and Conquer, Duke Nukem 3D and of course Warcraft 2 (never played the first one). I even tried to mod a Doom2 level to fit with the map of the temple of elemental evil for a campaign that we were doing at the time.
But then I went to university, and my world changed. They had broadband connection in every bedroom on the campus! Unlimited and unrestricted access to a world that had quite evolved since I had the last chance to check it back home. Music collection increased drastically as I discovered what would then become the reference in audio format (mp3). That reminds me that I won the bet I made with my father at that time when I said that portable players would be the next big thing. Anyway, that is when I started to play even more and realized that you could play on a network with or against other people. Diablo comes to mind as we played that for ours with my friend when I got back home but it is not the only one Half life, Quake 2, Baldur’s Gate, and so on where also in the picture.
I went through a phase where I would play anything I could get my hands on or store it for latter and latter never came. Going back home involved getting a proper connection on the internet, so I installed one and paid for it with the money I had from my first job. I continued to play, a lot, Warcraft 3, Neverwinter Nights, Morrowind, Dungeon Siege (loved it!) and continued to be a good provider for my friends. The next step came when being pushed by my best friend, started to look into mmorpg, and more specifically anarchy online. This was a game that would never stop and never finish yet achieve a level of achievement every time you play, it was a true virtual role playing game. It was that game that truly prepared me for the coming step.
In 2004 I moved to my own place and also got accepted on the Beta release of world of warcraft. I had been playing the third release strategic version of the game since it had came out and not uninstalled it since; it has become a classic along with command and conquer 2 and Red alert. I got sucked into wow, and practically forgot all other games, not only did I played a lot but I was also surrounded by all my friend who were also playing, we had a common interest and scary enough a very specific language. I moved places and changed jobs since then but wow is still part of my life, I have found people online, met them and and share a lot of time with them. So I must admit that as I look back on the computer gaming age from my point of view, it has evolved a lot. I don’t know what is coming next but I have to say that I will probably join in and try it out. It will be fun and that what life has to be too, right?