Phil Fogg, co-host of the Game Under Podcast has been chided lately by Tom Towers for not updating what was supposed to be a series that started here, which Phil's first gaming experience. Here is the next thrilling chapter in this tale of Fogg's willing surrender to escapism.
Summer Bay, Queensland, Australia - 1980-1983
I would spend most school vacations (ten weeks a year) with my Uncle Steve, Aunt Beryl and cousins Saul, Callie and Larry. Much of the time we played with toy Matchbox cars, walked on the beach making up stories or langushed in front of the two-channel TV that occasionally belched out a limited range of twenty year old cartoons and themore regular cricket matches wringed of any drama by the monotonous tones of Richie Benaud.
All that changed forever when Aunty Beryl brought down an Atari 2600 from a tall bedroom closet and hooked it up to her master bedroom television. Uncle Steve had bought it for himself and not really known what to make of it. Now it was our turn.
For hours at a time we would lie on their bed taking turns to play Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Demon Attack, Pinball, Fishing Derby and my favorite, Activision's River Raid. At our early ages each of us were entirely enveloped by the 16 or so colored squares that represented fish, planes, Egyptian warlords and spaceships. But we spent most of our time playing Carol Shaw's River Raid, endlessly. Time away from the game was filled with long discussions of black helicopters, refueling techniques, who lived in the houses and why we could not bomb them as well.
When not my turn at the controls, I spent countless hours examining the fanciful manuals, and all the buttons and switches on the Atari that we rarely used. Even then I knew that not all games were equal. Atlantis looked cool, but was not. This is perhaps where my Bioshock boredom began.
When I was not staying with my cousins I thought about being in Summer Bay, in part to be with my favorite cousins, but also to be in front of that 17" television with an Atari 2600 controller in hand.