Yesterday I entered a time machine and relived some key moments of my younger life via a fantastic exhibit at the Media Museum in Bradford where they have many of the original classic arcade games and early consoles rigged up and ready to play. Now these days I’m not a gamer and in fact I remember taking a pretty conscious decision a long time ago not to become a gamer once the serious home consoles kicked off as I knew that I’d never leave the house as I’d spent a huge part of my formative yearns semi addicted to arcade games and their cousins the pinball machines. So you can imagine my delight as I walked into a room to see, in my eyes, the supreme triumvirate of early arcade games – Space Invaders, Pacman and Galaxian lined up and ready to play for 10p a pop. I was only heading one way and that was for the mighty Galaxian. Now for those of you weened on Halo, Assassins Creed and the like this will probably not mean much to you but for those of a certain age you will remember the pure thrill of exhilaration that Galaxian provided, no longer did the evil hordes just move from side to side (a la space invaders) but they were going to swoop down and dive bomb you as well.
Now all of the early games came in Arcade form but also in table form (excellent for putting your pints on although I remember spilling a few) and while the table form was a classic I always preferred the stand up versions. There was a little cafe outside the 6th form I used to go to where I used to go while waiting for my bus home and inside was a Galaxian, I played it so much that I can remember becoming almost trancelike as you got used to the movement of the attackers and I’d adopt the Galaxian sway as my whole body bobbed and weaved while playing the game, totally immersed in the pixels. When I fired up the old game yesterday the sway returned (much to the amusement of my kids) and despite 30 years away the old magic was still flickering as I took the high score, much to the bemusement of the kids this time who simply said “but Dad you can’t play video games” – look and learn kids look and learn. So over the next few weeks I feel like reliving those memories again, pocket full of change, bunk off for the afternoon and let play commence.