Hi! I’m what most would categorize as a “classic gamer”. At least, for the purpose of this site, that’s what I’m involved in. There is more to me than gaming, but we’ve got to start somewhere!
I’m a forty-something with a family, and that limits my time for this hobby of mine but I still find a way. I’ve been in the “classic gaming” community for over twenty years. Since before Web 2.0, before broadband internet, and really since before the internet as we know it today.
I grew up in the 80’s like many others, in a single parent household. And the only thing we could do while “staying out of trouble” was play games. In the heyday of the NES, I found my love and passion for gaming in those old right-scrolling games of yore. I sharpened my skills on a relatives’ C64, which even though I never owned one; still holds a place in my heart right next to my NES.
It was not until years later, when I realized those old NES games might somehow work on a faster machine within the greatest thing I had ever known – MS-DOS.
I had been a regular of BBS services when the shareware DOOM demo hit the scene, and I like all my friends, were heavily into that game when it dropped (and I still am!) and there was a DOS adaptation of a Mario game which got me wondering how I could get my favorite old NES games running on this snazzy 486DX powerhouse DOOM machine.
Eventually, I found my way into what is now known as emulation, but back then was really still console hacking. As the SNES was still on the market at this time (and that really don’t make the NES sound so ancient when you think about it like that). There was copies of games scattered on BBS’s for different consoles for people who had these Chinese copiers could actually play these files from a 1.44MB floppy disc ON their console!
The thought of getting the latest RPG games, not only in DOS, but the expensive console ones seemed amazing to me. But I did not own one of these fancy Chinese copiers, and I feared I never would.
Eventually, people started making my dream come true — these games were make to play on DOS machines, (albeit poorly and very slowly in the beginning). They were likely kids like me, wanting to relive their favorite games on their systems that were likely sold for the next greatest thing or broken from overuse by children (who usually destroy everything).
In the latter half of the 90’s, after DOOM got a sequel, and those machines started getting upgrades, Win95 came and slowly gaming (although very crudely at first), starting moving into the Windows environment. These emulators started becoming actually playable (but still stuck in DOS, like they themselves had become old during their creation), games started making sounds again, complex ones started working, and yes even the huge 4MB download ROMs would run in the emulators. Websites were popping up around all of this. By this time, those 14.4k modems were being upgraded to 56k and the internet as we know it today was beginning to take shape. Companies had a webpage, there was message boards that were much more interactive than their BBS cousins. There was chat, newsgroups, FTPs, warez, and hacking all over for us kids to find and explore.
And suddenly, we weren’t reading comics and playing AD&D all night. We were having all-night gaming sessions (and what they call LAN parties today), we’d bring all the PCs to one house and have DOOM deathmatch sessions fueled by Mountain Dew and Dominos Pizza, using maps we found from BBS’ or places online.
Consoles seemed so inferior to what had been created for us by then. But they were still this dis-connected thing. Not part of the network, part of the old world. Which made them feel so ancient and so distant from where we were in the world. Things changed fast.
When the internet started to grow, hacking sites began, console sites started up, and people started following this kind of information as a form of news. So much changed so quickly, it almost feels like another entire new world was born (and in a sense, it was), and things from a decade prior seemed literally, ancient.
I became a part of this scene that grew up around all of this. The “emulation community” as it’s known. Many sites sprang up to follow the flow of this information: Emu News Service, Dave’s Classics, Zophar’s Domain, RetroGames, Emulation Camp, and of course, my favorite was Archaic Ruins.
To be continued (one day when I actually sit down and write some more…)(really, it’s been 5 years already… lol)