You are sitting in a darkened room, nursing a headache that has been pounding on your skull since the night before. You are trying to block out the sound of four children careering through your house, demanding food, drink, telly, make-up, swivel chairs and swords. You look at the clock and realise that it is now 4.30pm, one child is being picked up at 6.00pm and you have yet to put some washing in, make a spaghetti bolognaise, and write the blog that is fast becoming an obsession.
There is a cup of tea, a mouse, a lamp and a pile of paperwork on the desk in front of you.
>As you sip the golden brown nectar, your thoughts become clearer
>you can’t do that here
>your blog is saved to draft
>nothing happens (this isn’t Twin Kingdom Valley you know)
>you enter the kitchen, pausing only to pick up discarded hats, coats and gloves, before donning a pinnie and launching yourself whole-heartedly into the role that has become your own.
Sounds familiar? The scenario may do, but I guess I may have just left a lot of people wondering what the hell I’m on about. You see, back in the good old days, before cyberspace and blogging, tweeting and online gaming, upwardly mobile Families of the ’80s had personal computers that were quite unlike those most children use today.
In 1977, Ken Olsen, the founder and CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation, said, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”
Despite this now famous quote being taken out of context (he was referring not to desktop home computers, but to machines which would be able to control all aspects of our fully computerised homes), Mother of Mine and I found a great reason for using the Acorn Electron computer that I had been bought for my birthday. We discovered text adventure games, and from 3.00pm after school, immersed ourselves in a world of magic, dwarves, fairgrounds or even the plain ordinariness of a deserted house on Hampsted Heath. We’d nip down to the local computer shop, snappily named ‘Bits and Bytes’, after school and pick up the latest Scott Adams adventure game. Back home, we’d grab the cassette, drop it into our cassette recorder and wait 20 minutes whilst the game loaded! All very different to today’s gaming world…
I’m delighted to see the games are still going strong though – the original Scott Adams adventures are available to download and play from his website – and the genre has been somewhat re-invented as ‘interactive fiction”, available at Frotz and also as an app for the iPhone/iPod Touch – search for ‘Frotz’.
Now where was I? Oh, I know…