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5 Things All 80s Gamers Remember

When you listen to people wax nostalgic about decades gone by, they tend to most fondly remember the one in which they grew up. For me, that decade is the ‘80s. What an awesome time to be a kid! Watching cartoons like Rainbow Brite, Inspector Gadget, and The Transformers while eating Crispy Critters cereal and wearing My Little Pony pajamas—those memories get me right in the feels. And of course, I also remember the video games. Here are five things my fellow ‘80s gamers will remember.

#5: Playing Games on a Black and White TV

It’s true that by the 1970s, color televisions were outselling black and white sets, but in those days, a TV was still a monumental purchase. Even though more and more families were bringing home new color TVs, that didn’t mean the black and white ones got tossed in the trash.

While the color TV got the main real estate of the family room, the black and whites were banished to the territory of the rec room, the basement, and the kid’s room. If you had a Pong set, an Atari 2600, or an NES back in those days, odds are you played a great deal of it while hooked to a black and white TV.

#4: Using the Player 2 Controller to Control the Duck

I’m just now learning that perhaps this wasn’t as universal as I thought, but for me and everyone I knew while I was growing up, it was common knowledge that the NES’s player 2 controller could be used to control the duck in Duck Hunt. This was key in extending the entertainment value of this game, which otherwise gets pretty boring, pretty fast (yeah, I said it). It was especially hilarious if you had a much younger sibling who didn’t yet know the trick, and you could watch as they worked themselves into a rage over not being able to hit the duck you were secretly controlling. Not that I ever did that…

#3: Lining Up Quarters to Call “Next” at Arcades

If you had a game console at home, you were one of the lucky ones. As a child, I spent hours at a particular neighbor’s house because they had an NES, and we didn’t. So if you wanted to play games, the arcade was still the number one choice for many. You could usually count on the arcade to have multiple cabinets for titles like Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, etc. But for the more expensive games, such as Punch-Out!! or the Star Wars arcade game (my favorite), they usually only had one. Lining up your quarters to call next became as much a part of a visit to the arcade as was the dark, stuffy room and the sticky carpet.

#2: Playing Number Munchers (or some other educational game) on the One Computer in the School Library

I still remember the day I used a computer for the very first time. I was in 2nd grade, and our school had just gotten a new IBM computer. Our class was marched to the library in groups, and each child was given a chance to use it. From then on, getting back to the library to use the computer was a primary objective for all of us. It didn’t matter that we were playing educational games, like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? or Reader Rabbit or (the one everybody knows) The Oregon Trail. We’d have spent every recess in there if we could.

#1: Blowing into Cartridges

Where we all learned to do this, I have no idea, but we definitely all did it.

Supposedly, it removed excess dust and created a better connection between the game and the pins in the console. Now, of course, we know that this is the wrong thing to do, and that the moisture from your breath can actually exacerbate the problem. But you know what? If it didn’t work, we wouldn’t have ALL done it.