As most of my friends can tell by the giddiness I have when we fire up the MAME cabinet, I absolutely love retro gaming. The time when games weren’t about how good the graphics were and the definition of “pay to play” was to put a quarter in the slot. The “Growing Up Gaming” posts are going to be stories of retro gaming from my life, whether it be arcade games or older console games. In the first “Growing Up Gaming” article I am going to go all the way back to the beginning of my gaming life, the very first video games that I played, and the environment that a child was raised in that spawned a love of all things gaming.

For the first nine years of my life I spent more than half of my time in a bar. No I wasn’t an old looking child with a fake ID, my parents owned the Crippled Crow Tavern and I was apparently a fixture in that establishment. If you talk to someone who used to frequent the bar you would hear stories about the little red headed kid who would walk around asking for quarters or run to the corner store for people to buy cigarettes so I could keep the change, (Yes, we used to live in a world where a six year old kid could go to the store with a note scribbled on a scrap of paper and buy cigarettes). What did I do with all those sweet quarters? Well put them in arcade games of course!

Back in the day, there used to be a company called Selectomatic Games (they eventually opened Ron’s Virtual World) that would rent out arcade games to bars and restaurants in exchange for something like half of the quarters that were in the machines. They would rotate games around as well so in the years I was a quarter mooch at the Crippled Crow I was able to try a lot of the old classic games. At all times there were two cocktail style arcade machines in the bar, which are the sit down table type. The games I remember playing on those tables were Pacman, Galaga, 1942, Super Qix, and Wonderboy in Monsterland.

I’m sure most people by now know what Pacman is, and back in those days I was a master at Pacman. I would spend my days trying to get to the end of the game and I am sure I was no where near the end considering the game has 255 levels and the level after that is a glitch. Many years later it is a game that people tend to not want to play with me because they tend to have to wait a while for their turn.

I actually had to do some research to find the name of Super Qix because every time I searched for “arcade game where you uncover a picture with a diamond that has to stay on lines” I got a game called Gal’s panic, which isn’t wrong per say, it just happens to be an adult theme of the game I was looking for. Super Qix is just that, a game where you control a diamond that creates straight lines and uncovers a picture and once you have uncovered a certain percentage of the picture you pass the level. The hardest part about the game was the stupid goblin that didn’t just move around the screen he teleported around the screen and considering he would kill you if you touched him and you weren’t on an already completed line, he was a bit of an annoyance.

My favourite game by far that ever came into the Crippled Crow was a game called Wonderboy in Monsterland. So many quarters were put into this game as I would try to get this toddler with a sword to fight snakes and grim reapers in whatever quest he was on. I plan on doing a GameSpark Plays live stream of this game so I will not spoil too much of the game but you have to believe me when I say this game is absolutely epic.

That was the beginning of it all. My entire life of gaming began from that one place, a sketchy bar I called home in the south side of Thunder Bay, ON, Canada named The Crippled Crow.