In a much simpler time and place, there was no hustle and bustle of the information superhighway. Chips and mice almost certainly came exclusively from a field in Idaho rather than your living room. And somehow, a young girl found love.
When computers first came into our homes in the early 1980’s, many changes were taking place in the world. Businesses were merely tapping the surface in their first experiments with the potential computers possessed. Computers were already on pace to take the home by storm. In a manner of speaking, it was an exciting time to be a part of the expansion of computing technology. However, I was preoccupied with other ventures involving computers. I wasn’t an accountant or a chess player. I didn’t need to compute large quantities of numbers quickly. I was simply looking for Mr. Right.
I remember my first computer as a child being a Commodore 64. When I think back to how easy it was to use a Commodore 64 I remember not using a mouse, but using a joy stick controller. I used it to maneuver that tiny little dot back and forth in a game of pong™. Pong™ ranked higher than any other game in the world at that time. It was what everyone in the neighborhood came over to play. I would spend all my free time in front of the computer trying to master that addictive game. And yet, it did not fulfill all for which my heart yearned. Little did I know what another would show me. Little did I know all that I was missing.
If you were a child of the 80’s I am sure that Pong™ and others were on the top of your list. The simplicity of those games, were enough to entertain a child for hours on end. It was what you talked about on the play ground at recess, and what you discussed at the lunch table. “What level did you get to last night?” was the first question you were asked as you took your seat on the bus in the morning. These were the games a child could find joy in playing. They were simple enough for anyone to play, but challenging enough to draw you back until you could beat your highest score. However, something extra kept drawing me back.
Today, children hear the word computer games and they are presented with hundreds of thousands of games, varying in levels of intensity and variation. Many games come with a ‘Mature’ label on them. Under a certain age “Material contained in this game is not suitable for children.” Violence has taken over a big part of computer Games. What used to be so simple as hitting a dot back and forth with a joy stick or trying to get a guy to eat as many dots as possible has been turned into guns, bombs, and destruction. Before Nintendo™, Super Nintendo™, Playstation™, and X-Box™ came into our lives, we lived in a world of Pong™ and, of course… Pac-Man™.
Of course pong™ was fun for a while, but I was turning into a woman. I yearned for that male presence in my life since my father had left us. Pong™ could only take me so far before I had to move on to bigger and better things. That is how I stumbled upon Mr. Pac-Man™™. I remember when he first came to live with us. At first it was a struggle for everyone in my family. It had taken a considerable amount of time for us to leave behind the childhood of Candyland™ and Operation™ for Pong™. Now it was as though our mother had re-married. We had a whole new set of rules with which to accustom ourselves.
Most computer games today can be downloaded straight from the Internet. Additionally, you can play computer games with people sitting on the other side of the world by pressing just a few buttons. What once was a game played with nearby friends and family is now a game that can be played with virtually anyone in the world. As I occasionally pick up a controller and play whatever is in the machine, I remember a simpler time. I can recall hours of intimacy where all that mattered was Mr. Pac-Man™ and me… and the occasional ghost. Games today don’t hold the same reward that teaming up with him did.
I still look back to those days when my world consisted of hardly anything except for beating my score at Pong™ and Pac-Man™. That time is long and forgotten in today’s world. I may not have wedding photos, a marriage certificate, or even something as simple as a ring. But as long as I live, I’ll have the memories. It was not so long ago that I was Mrs. Pac-Man™.