It was 1996, I was six, and my parents took me and my brother to the Computer shop to get our very first computer. Back then in Uruguay it wasn’t that common to have a PC at home, but it was getting more and more popular. It was the beginning of the Internet as we know it Today and a lot of newspapers and magazines made lists of what kind of things you could do with it; from visiting the Louvre to browsing Disney’s website with pictures and lists of their movies. This for sure would bore any millennial nowadays, but back then just seeing Mickey Mouse in full colors in your screen while it slowly loaded because of your 56k connection, was very exciting.
However, for me, the interactions I had had with computers were very limited. Most of them happened while visiting my mom’s work. She worked in an office, which was full of computers but not necessarily did a lot of things that could excite a kid in the mid 90s. Their main use was text processing and calculations. I remember one of my first times there, I saw in the distance a computer with an animation of Donald duck cleaning a window. I asked my mom: “Can you play with it?” and my mom said: “No, that’s just an animation that shows while the computer is not being used” (needless to say, that was a screensaver), but she added “but you can play with this one. Here, you have these cards that you need to try to group following this order”. Solitaire was actually fun to play, but not something I was impressed at all.
So, coming back to that day in 1996 where we went to the computer shop. My parents entered an office where they talked with the sales person that explained all about the computer. Let’s not forget that buying a computer wasn’t a thing you would do very often. The prices were still quite high and my parents wanted to know all the conditions of that purchase. I found that boring, so me and my brother just waited outside. At some point we just saw some color lights flashing at the end of the corridor. It was probably one of the latest PC models that the shop was selling that was there in display. In it, there was an animation of this green rabbit, running like crazy and shooting turtles. The animation was even more impressing than Donald Duck cleaning windows, so I just thought it was another screensaver. But then a sales person came with some prospect buyers and said to them “Oh and you can also play with it”, hit enter and started to move that rabbit everywhere. The game in question is Jazz Jackrabbit, and to be fair it wasn’t the latest game at the moment with the most advanced graphics. For me, I just couldn’t believe it, videogames were not a new thing to me, I had my Nintendo Famicom at home, but videogames on a computer for some reason just blew my mind.
From that moment, everything related to computers became so interesting to me. I decided to get a degree in Computer Science and work as a Software Engineer. But the walks of life just take you to different places (that are also very exciting), but not very close to videogames. So, recently I just decided to give it a go and try to get closer to this world again. Now with game engines like Unity, getting started to build your own videogame is not hard at all, so that’s what I have been doing in my free time lately.
The videogame I built is called “Perdidos en el Tiempo” and is a platform game (not a coincidence that Jazz Jackrabbit was a platformer as well) where you impersonate a native person in the past that has to help a girl that got lost in time trying to save the world.
It’s a very short game and for somebody that plays videogames nowadays, a very rudimentary one. But I feel proud to have been involved in the process from beginning to end and to learn more about game development. Definitely this is just the beginning, I would like to learn more about it and try different things. Most importantly, to keep getting impressed and excited like that kid 24 years ago.
This is what a PC in 1996 would look like. It was the beginning of multimedia, and Windows 95 was getting extremely popular.
Solitaire would come for free in Windows 95 and was an addictive way to just kill the time.
Jazz Jackrabbit was a game released in 1994 for DOS. You play as a green rabbit who has to rescue a princess and kill everything that get’s in your way. Reminds me a lot to Sonic the Hedgehog for SEGA.
Unity is one of the most popular game engines at the moment. It’s quite easy to learn and you can build your own game in minutes.