personal gaming histories

The Giana Sisters alive and in actionLast saturday I attended a good friend’s felicitous 30th birthday. Geek he is, he had set up some sideshow-amusement for us (the other geeks): A Commodore Amiga, running vintage games, Giana Sisters (see pic, courtesy of fab) being the top of the heap, the evening’s and night’s favourite. To prevent our minds from completely dissolving in the realm of 16 bits, we now and then wandered outside, sat in the garden, had some Vodka and beer, and talked the night away. Not surprisingly we merrily chatted about the games we played in ye olde times. It went: Remember Ports of Call? Golden Axe anybody? Lemmings? And so on, till finally the immortal Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards came up. After a while I realized that on first glance we indeed had similar personal gaming histories (apart from the infamous “Radsportmanager 2004 starring Ivan Basso”—sorry triple-m, I just had to bring it up again ;-), but on the other side significantly different ones. Take for example my humble self, being somewhat older than the party’s average attendee: I started out with a C64, never had a ZX Spectrum (which rose to fame again due to William Gibson’s latest novel Pattern Recognition) like triple-m had, and dropped out of the scene after the C64 started to become history. My re-entry to the world of computergames was not before Descent. All this gives me the opportunity to hint you to IFTF’s personal video gaming history project:

The Institute for the Future (IFTF) is a 35 year-old non-profit research organization that studies technology and its impacts on society. We’re embarking on a new project to look at the history of electronic games so we can better understand where they’re headed in the future.

To help us develop this history, we’d like to invite you to share your personal experiences with electronic games. Videogames are definitely included, but even earlier is fine. As long as some bits and bytes are involved.

So what did you play? What games stand out in your memories? Did you play in groups, or by yourself – did this change over time, or from game to game? What skills do you think you learned from each game? Has a videogame ever helped you in “real life”?

Send your personal gaming history, or as much as your time allows, to games (at)

Lounge Lizards’ Land expects every geek to do his duty—I definitely will write up my personal gaming history and send it in. A good starting point will be the list of C64-games I own[ed]. Well, I still own the 5¼ indeed floppy disks, but I doubt that they still harbour readable content. When orange visited me on saturday, right before the party, to do an interview on the concept of ‘virtual reality’ with me (and no, I did not make fun of your sound-equipment, I just was somewhat flabbergasted by its nostalgic looks) the issue of a cyberanthropologist’s biographical rootedness in his/her topic came up. For a project like mine the personal gaming history definitely has to be made explicit. Best is to accompany it by Vodka.

UPDATE [27 October 2005]: Orange has written a piece on how do we represent ourselves to the field—the first part of her text refers to the presentation Cybercommunities and cyberspace by Michel Nachez & Patrick Schmoll, delivered at my workshop Cyberanthropology. Tnx for that.

The second part critizes my advertising of the IFTF above. Orange of course is completely right, and I didn’t look into the matter deeply enough. Read her entry for clarification. Orange, tnx for that, too.
hint to IFTF via entry at gamersgame