For me I remember it all starting with the Atari 2600 and a little game called Asteroids, though looking back at photos from my earlier years I can see that the Atari was merely the trigger that brought the latent geek in me to the surface. I mean seriously, look at this photo of me as a little tacker and just ask yourself if that’s not a geek waiting to happen! And no, that’s not a laptop backpack I’m wearing, though it could be! :-)
I spent days and weeks blowing up asteroids in space and leaping through jungles, swinging on vines and jumping over pits (Pitfall anyone?!), but that all faded to backstory when I went to a selective school and my parents decided it was good for my education if they splashed out on a Commodore 64. The day that thing came home, my fate was sealed. As a kid in primary school I remember the unboxing, plugging it into the TV along with the tape drive and an external floppy drive, turning it on and then seeing the blue screen, the blinking cursor and the READY prompt. What now?! We could LOAD something from tape or disk, or we could crack out the programming books that it came with and explore the possibilities! The games were great, but being able to type things into that C64 and watch them run was a revelation! Not only could I play games, and oh! how I played games, but I could write them as well! I remember writing my own text based adventure games (they were crap of course) and building programs that would show animated running man sprites moving across the screen based on how the joystick was pushed. It was a marvel, pure and simple. Being able to make the computer do what I wanted based on my decisions and actions and see the results on screen. Mwahahaha! The power! The unlimited, unfettered POWER!!! *Cough* *Ahem* Yes, what was I saying? I think I got carried away with myself there…
So I’m sure my parents wished I would go play sport with the other kids on the street more often than I did, but I knew I’d never be great at that. Computers however? Different story. I controlled the universe there. They made sense to me. I could figure out how it all fit together. I could PEEK and POKE with the best of them. I got so much joy, fun, fulfilment and square eyes from playing games and writing software that I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. You see, I’m a gamer, through and through. I love playing games and programming is just another form of game. A different form of accomplishment, but still the same sensation that you get from finishing a level or beating a boss fight. Tell me you haven’t got some code working at times and fist pumped, or put your arms in the air in a victory pose! I’m sure this is how half of the world’s programmers started their coding careers – wishing they could spend all their time playing and writing games as cool and puzzling as Boulder Dash or Impossible Mission or Paradroid. I’m no different.
So there you have it. My geek origin story, what’s yours?