1980s Atari flashback

(The above video clip is courtesy of the Twitter account 80sThen80sNow. Check them out on Twitter if you’re into ’80s nostalgia!)

I was in junior high in the very early 1980s, just in time for the Golden Age of the Mall Arcade.

In those years, the mall arcade was the place to play video games. There were two large shopping malls in my part of Cincinnati, Ohio. Whenever I’d managed to save up some quarters, I would finagle a ride to the mall and play.

My favorite games were: Asteroids, Battlezone (see below), Space Invaders, Missile Command, and—of course–PacMan. 

By late 1980, though, Atari started selling reliable and affordable home game system consoles that hooked up to a standard color television set. My parents surprised me with one for Christmas, 1980. (Hey, I had an idyllic childhood and loving parents. I won’t deny it.)

After so many years, I can’t be certain of the exact model; but it was probably an Atari 2600, shown below.

My Atari phase lasted through the 8th grade. When I entered high school in the fall of 1982, I’d moved on to sports, rock music, and girls. (Well, I moved on to sports and rock music. I was still clueless and awkward around girls at that point; but they certainly captured my attention.)

Video games were never more than a youthful phase for me. Video gaming was different in the 1980s. There was no “gamer” culture as there is today. (Or at least there wasn’t in my environment.) And of course, the Internet as we know it was still more than a decade away.

I have never been a gamer in my adult life, either. I’ve looked at the various role-playing video games available nowadays. They’re incredible, compared to what we had in the early ’80s. But I’m happy to leave them to others. I have more than enough on my plate already.

That said, I had a lot of fun with video games for a few years in that window between childhood and early adulthood. Lots of good memories, too.