Been thinking about this on and off for a long time, but it’s really come to mind this morning as I listened and interacted with another Digital Writer’s Festival panel, this time on games journalism. I put in a few questions and I learned a lot, but it got me thinking again about for me my original gaming love, and computer love, and how it just doesn’t seem to get much credit anymore.
The Commodore 64 was the dominant home computer from about 1983 until at least 1988, if not more like about 1990. I had one in active use from 1987 until 1993 and in that time I played thousands of games, learned the basics of programming and got involved in a wider world of demos and game play and magazines and various other things. Unlike computing today and the Internet, it was a largely singular experience (I had magazines to read, but not much two-way interaction), but it was a big thing for me.
There was so much innovative gaming on the C64, and so many future gaming stars got their introduction to just playing but also creating games with a C64, but in latter days it seems like that has ben whitewashed in favour of an all-console history. Like consoles were all we used in those days. For a start, if consoles had been all we used, would modern game developers even have got started?
To be sure, one of the biggest issues here is how Commodore went bankrupt — but its not the first time that happened, and all technology has an end-life, even if it shouldn’t stop being remembered. I’ve always thought computer games were the only medium that had no history, where every “best of” list features games no more than five old and where part of the problem with narrative forms never changing is precisely this lack of history. Hopefully games journalism is changing some of this, but I think the field needs to be open a bit wider.
So I like the idea of a bit of a Commodore 64 history. It’s deeply personal, but it’s also worldly (how many were out there at the peek — at how many countries?) There’s businesses that rose, fell and rose again with the C64, and there’s a whole history of innovative gaming that often isn’t talked about enough.
So that’s that. I have a lot of history with the old Commodore 64, and it’s a history and cultural context that is worth talking about.