If you’re like me (and if you are, then I’m terribly sorry) then you can never forget the first time you saw Space Invaders.
I was staying overnight at my aunt’s trailer park, having a right miserable time since they’re depressing places to be at, and somehow wandered into the recreation hall. It had a couple of pinball tables and a new arrival – a giant blue tower with a scary alien on the side. The older kids were playing something on it, but I wasn’t tall enough to see what was going on. All I could hear was that thunderous heartbeat – boom, boom, boom getting faster and faster – mixed with a sound like I had never heard before, an electronic scream that scared me for a long time afterward.
Damn, those kids looked like they were having fun. Eventually I convinced one of the older ones to lift me up and let me have a go. I know it sounds stupid these days considering how simple the game is but to me then it was sensory overload. There was so much happening and I didn’t know what I was meant to do and there were lights and that sound was so loud and the kids were yelling at me to push a stick and press a button and I didn’t understand that I could do both those things at once and I kept looking down at the controls and then back up to see what had happened and they yelled more and more and I died and everyone groaned and put me back down on the ground and I scurried off.
I wouldn’t experience that exact mixture of bewilderment and excitement and urgency and terror again for years afterward, but thankfully the next time there would be a naked woman involved.
Anyway! Most of my time with Space Invaders was on the excellent Atari 2600 version, which boasted, what, 112 versions of the game? I went through every one of them, and recorded my scores for each one in a book, and I was the most hardcore gamer you could be for being like eight years old.