Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Game From the Past

A while ago I talked about playing PGR2 (Project Gotham Racing 2 released in 2003) and the impact that hearing a song had. From this I thought about games themselves; what would happen if I were to play a game that I hadn't played in years? How about a game that hasn't been played in nearly two decades?

I tried to think of a game that would be fitting, and then I found it. The last time I played this game was when I rented it from G & M Video in Indianapolis back in 1991! 19 years it had been since I last played NES Play Action Football for the original Nintendo. I rented this game once and never played it again, but I acquired it when I bought a lot of games on Ebay.

My first thoughts that came to mind was, "WOW! This sure isn't the newest Madden for the Xbox 360!". This game was ahead of its time, in a way, as the game featured vocals. Not much mind you, but hearing "first down" or "touchdown" back then was a big deal.

As much as I would like to go on about video games I am sure that the majority of you readers would get a little bored, so onward with the actual story.

Like I said, it was 1991 when I rented this game. I remember this fact vividly, but when I started playing it I remembered more. As a side note I think I should mention that my memory is abnormally good so when I remember even more, well, it's crazy good. Anywho, (that word was for you mom! Sorry, inside joke. See if she ever talks about my word usage again! :) while playing the game, I was flooded with memories. I remembered that my mom wasn't home and I also had rented the game, Klax, which was unusual because I was typically allowed one rental. With my mom being gone though I guess my dad let me have two.

Where was my mom though? The murky waters of the metaphorical flood began to clear, quickly I might add, and I remembered that she was gone to the LWML convention held in Cleveland that year. I just checked to make sure my memory was correct on Google, and everything matched up.

As the 2nd quarter ended as I played I had another flashback and I was in my room on 13th street in Indianapolis. It was night time and then there was a strange glow outside my window. A fire! This fire was across I-465 and my dad and I went looking for it. Back in the day if there were sirens headed in a direction my dad and I were a bit nosy so we got in the car and looked for this fire. We got over there and saw nothing. The next day we looked for some sign of where the fire was and we found nothing. That fire was a big mystery that never was solved.

My time with the retro game came to a close and I can't believe the progress that the developers have made. What I also can't believe is how many memories were revisited by simply playing a video game that I hadn't played in 19 years.

What can be learned from this? I didn't simply share a story about an irrelevant game from the 8 bit days for filler. I think this further illustrates my associative memory system. Much like the soda can I talked about in "Inappropriate Attachment to Objects" this game is the anchor to the memories of that night of the fire and the week my mom was gone.

I think this is something that all of us can share. How many times has a song brought about a memory that you hadn't thought of in some time? Or a movie? I'm sure you can relate to this, but I'm not fully sure if it would be to the level of detail I have. Honestly, I can remember the walk down the halls trying to look out a different window to the fire, I can remember playing Klax once and deciding that it was one of the worst games ever made, and I can even remember the lighting that was on in the house.

My final thought on this is that these memories that are remembered through items, or now games, is very powerful and can be overwhelming. I know I've used the word "overwhelming: a lot in my posts, but there's no better word for it. To be flooded with information at a rate of speed that would be a kin to a dam bursting is hard to process. To remember the sounds, the smells, and even the thoughts I had in a different era is confusing. To put it simply; when a memory is experienced like this it is truly like reliving it. I guess if I want to relive my childhood, my true young childhood, all I will need to do is find myself an Atari and have some fun on Bowling or Pole Position. I wonder what type of memories that would conjure up!


  1. Thank you Aaron for the joke, funny, anywho. mom

  2. That happens a lot but maybe not with such detail.

  3. Robby can recall things from when he was as young as 6 months old with overwhelming :) accuracy. But he cannot remember where he put his shoes 10 minutes later!

  4. Pretty sure my daughter can remember being born. Important stuff...not so much.