Phil Fogg's First Gaming Experience

Thanks to the wayback machine, today I found this:

Redacted, Redacted, Australia 1978
The village that I spent ages 5 through 16 was distinct from neighboring towns only in its non-aboriginal name. "Redacted" the classical goddess of fruit and trees who carried a cornucopia in one hand was a stranger amongst villages like Redacted, Redacted, Redacted and Redacted. In all other aspects it was much like those other towns though. It had a sprawling 'pub', a butcher, a bakery, a draper and two cafés. It was in the most popular of these cafes that my brother and I lingered each afternoon on our barefoot walk home from school, and where I encountered video games for the first time.

The café was, in those times, part convenience store, fast-food vendor, soda parlor and meeting place. This particular café had a lime green tiled façade, mosaic tile with black grease that always felt refreshingly cool on my hard bare feet and sweeping glass counters that contained all manner of candies that could be bought for 1 or 2 cents a piece. I remember many times walking with my brother from school with my head down, in search for a penny or two so that I could buy a piece of candy at the café.

When I had no money I would simply sit in front of the store and wait for my brother patiently. Occasionally my patience would wear thin and I would venture inside to see what was taking so long.

As I remember it, I walked to the back of the store, everything towering over my small frame. Walking past the smells of onions on the grill, past the bottles of Coke and Passiona, I made my way to the back corner of the store. Several boys were crowded around a tall dark wood cabinet with a black and white television in it. As I drew closer I saw that a steering wheel was attached to the front of it. It was a strange sight and an even stranger concept - being able to drive a car and be on TV at the same time! If I had seen an alien playing cards with my brother I could not have been more astounded.


To my surprise I was soon before the screen, barely able to see above the steering wheel, or control it in my small hands. My brother placed one of his 20-cent pieces in the slot and I started steering, much as I imagined I would in "real" life, by swinging the wheel ridiculously from left to right. I remember trying to avoid oil spills on the virtual track to no avail. Soon my time was up and the older boys chided me for my lack of skill. I felt guilty for wasting my brother's money and made it up to him by justifying my poor performance on our walk home. We probably talked about the encounter for weeks, though I had no interest in going back to play again, I had made a fool of myself and would have much preferred to have bought sprinkles, banana lollies, some chocolate bullets and jelly-babies with my 20 cents.