Reminiscences of a young gamer and the comeback of the adventure genre in gaming

Back in 1984…

I was six years old when my parents bought their first PC, it was 1984. They bought an Olivetti with 2 5¼ disk drives, a CGA video adapter and a monitor with phosphor green screen. As soon as I heard them discussing buying this computer, I knew this was BIG. I had never seen a computer in my life before but I knew, I just knew, that it was very important to have a computer. At that time it was a huge investment, I think they spent about ƒ4000,- guilders which 28 years would have been about a staggering $22,277.59 (calculated using http://www.dollartimes.com/calculators/inflation.htm)

The first things I did using this computer was playing computer games (Bouncing Babies, California Games) and writing small programs in GW-Basic. Well, writing programs is a slight exaggeration, I would type over the source code from magazines that published this verbatim. Usually, these listings contained errors and I had to ‘debug’ the program. At age 6, living in the Netherlands, and not speaking English, this is mission impossible.

Around age 10, we moved to a slightly larger town and I became friends with a guy (D) one year older then I was and whose parents had a original IBM PC (with a 20Mb hard drive!). He had a game I didn’t have yet: Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards aka Larry I.

I copied the game and together we started playing it. At age 10, I had a rudimentary English vocabulary but playing Larry was extremely hard, often we were stuck just not knowing what we were supposed to do. Fortunately, Larry was often killed and that gave us clues on what to do. One of the first we got stuck was at the very beginning, we were in this store and we needed needed to buy condoms (for many years I thought the English word for condom was lubber, not realizing that this slang) and Larry needed to practise safe sex (else he would die). Progress was painstakingly slow, we could be stuck for weeks.

Meanwhile, I had met another guy (M) in the neighbourhood who was 4 years older and who had a lot of games, and so I copied them: Police Quest I, Space Quest I, Kings Quest I, Police Quest II, Space Quest II, Fruit of the Loom, Monkey Island I, Civilization I. Me and D would play, my English vocabulary expanded slowly and sometimes I would use the dictionary to look up words. Progress increased when our library started carrying complete walkthroughs, it felt like cheating but finishing the game was the Holy Grail.

Early nineties…

By 1992, our pc was about 8 years old and it was outdated: it didn’t have a hard drive, it didn’t have a colour monitor and it was slow. Most of my friends had a 286 by this time and I still had a 8086. So I started putting pressure on my parents to buy a new pc, without success. So I increasingly played games at my friends house and by this time games circulated freely between me and my friends. There was a lively culture of sharing because it allowed us to play the games at the same time and discuss the next at school the problems, obstacles and potential solutions.

My disposable income was ƒ0,-;€0,-;$0,-. And this was true for my friends as well.

Fast forward to 2012

The reason I wrote this blog post is because right now there seems to be a renaissance of the adventure game genre happening on Kickstarter. Quite a few Kickstarter projects are centered around developing an adventure game:

I have such a fond memories of playing these kind of games that I have supported all three of them. It’s time to payback.

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