I was lucky enough to grow up in the golden age of video arcade games. Pacman was everywhere when I was about eight years old. The arcades were full of people trying to outpoint each other, the Atari 2600 produced an inferior, but still popular version, and I also had the little yellow ghost chomper on my lunchbox.
Here are my three favorite Pacman-related memories.
1. Tuesdays nights in the arcade
When my dad was studying at a university in New Mexico, one of his friends would take me to the campus arcade every Tuesday evening and give me two rolls of quarters. This was good for about an hour’s worth of total oblivion, depending on how well I was playing. I spent a lot of my time playing Pacman–when I could get to the machine. The sight of everyone crowded around the game is my first memory of what a social activity video gaming could be.
2. The Atari 2600 cartridge
Christmas morning, I unwrapped an Atari–which came with the game Combat--and my very own copy of the most popular game in the world. It never occurred to me to wonder why the ghosts looked so different, or why the colors looked so washed out, or why the sound quality was so much poorer–I was a kid with a new video game. That was all that mattered.
3. Ms. Pacman in New York
Trying to fly back home a couple of years ago, our flight was delayed and my family was stuck in the NY airport overnight. My little sister (21 or 22 at the time) had a total sleep-deprivation-fueled meltdown and burst into tears at about three in the morning. The only thing that consoled her was playing Ms. Pacman. We went over to the game and started plugging quarters in. Our reflexes were crappy and our eyes felt like they were full of sand, but those are feelings that any seasoned video gamer has felt at one time or another.
I’m sure there are more, which I’ll add as I go. But the memories of these old video games are so good. It was a really, really fun time to be a kid.