When I was a kid my dad and I had a special relationship. Most of our time was spent playing with Hot Wheels. We would both lay on the floor and take turns driving up various cars and park them. Don’t ask me why I guess this was fun to me at the time. My parents both told me I didn’t really care for normal toys aside from the cars. It wasn’t until the Ninja Turtles released that I had gotten into action figures. But I’m jumping ahead here. Mom and dad always said as a toddler I was fascinated with buttons and one of the things I’d always have in my hands was a calculator. I guess I you can say I was destined to be a techie to some extent. Then my dad had a great idea, he bought a Atari 2600.
Once we got to playing that thing it was hard to get us away. I recall my mom having to yell more than once to get our attention to come eat. Bed times were the worst. There’s nothing more annoying than kicking butt in a game and getting a new high score when your mom says its time for bed. Sometimes dad would say “oh, just a little longer won’t hurt him. But only just this one time.” Well lets just say that one time turned into almost every night. It was about this time that dad came up with something that surprisingly mom went for. On Friday nights once my little brother fell asleep, I could sneak down stairs and we could play Atari!
This was awesome! I couldn’t believe mom agreed with this. The only part I hated was waiting for my brother to nod off. Some times I would get halfway down the stairs and he would wake up! “Chris, where are you going?” Oh this was so annoying! I’d make up some lame excuse that I was thirsty or had to use the bathroom. Mind you this wasn’t a favoritism thing, I was just three years older and I guess they preferred the younger got more sleep. On one of these Friday nights dad surprised me with a new game, Pac-Man. Yes the 2600 version.
Now I know what a lot of you are thinking: “Chris, that’s one of the most notoriously known ports of a game known to man!’ and to those folks I would say I know and agree. But it holds a very personal and special place in my heart. This game allowed some great bonding time with dad and I. We caught the Pac-Man fever that was going around back then. Yes we were late to the party but that doesn’t mean anything. As long as we liked it and had fun! It didn’t take very long at all before I was kicking dads butt in the high score department. I can still here him teasingly calling me a cheater or that I got lucky. He would even lovely push me a little, trying to mess me up! Another dirty tactic he would use was to walk in front of the screen. During our Pac-Man sessions dad started to order us a Pizza from a local pizza parlor. The pizza was so thick one slice would fill you up! There was nothing better than Pac-Man, pizza, and quality time with your dad on a late Friday night.
Some of you may follow me on Twitter and hear me go on and on about wanting a Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga Cocktail (tabletop) arcade unit. That’s because that was the first time I experienced the lovely glow of a arcade cabinet and seeing Pac-Man like I never saw him before. Sure it was Ms. Pac-Man but the game play is exactly the same. This cabinet was at a local Dairy Queen and at least once a week dad would bring me by for some ice cream and he’d always have a pocket of quarters for some Ms. Pac-Man! We also found a regular Pac-Man machine at a local laundromat and you can bet we dumped plenty of quarters into that over the years! Dad was a truck driver for a dry cleaner for a short amount of time and some mornings he would take me to school. Every now and then, not often, we would stop at the laundromat for some Pac-Man or Frogger before school! This was so awesome! A kids dream!
So now maybe you’ll understand why I love the big yellow guy so much. I even like him more than Mario or Sonic, and as some of you may know Sonic is my man! If it wasn’t for my dad and these experiences I may not have turned into the gamer I am today. These memories mean everything to me, and I hope to never forget them. We had Pac-Man fever bad. Sometimes I think my dad did even more! He even took part in some Pac-Man promotional thing when he worked for a grocery store. (See picture below) It has been one year to the day since dad passed. Sure we had our ups and downs, he even left us and disappeared from our lives for a couple of years. But we were in the process of making up when he was suddenly taken from me. Last year shortly after he died, I made our first video in which I talk about these events briefly and I play the 2600 version of Pac-Man. (link below) This day will always be remembered by me by playing Pac-Man all day. I guess we can officially deem July 17th “National Pac-Man Day” Thank you dad for the memories and know that I will cherish them and always love you!
My first Chris Plays video. Dedicated to Dad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUFe7gRVohU