When I was very young, aliens invaded Planet Earth.
Oh OK, not really. But they certainly invaded my family holidays, where little gaming tables sprang up in lounges and lobbies all over the country. If you managed to obtain 10p from your mum, you could challenge your sister to a long round of this:
Reader, I shot at those aliens. I obliterated them. Though sometimes the pixelated blippy things destroyed my defences and got me first. Either way, my love of computer games was born.
Here’s another childhood game:
Asteroids. One of my best friends from school had a proper computer at home. (It was pretty rare back then. Ssh, yes, I know, I know!) This was my favourite of her games. I developed a technique whereby I could clear the screen in seconds, simply by continuously spinning my little ship and shoot-shoot-SHOOTING. I was invincible! Apart from when I wasn’t.
Fast forward a few years. Bring in the Sims. I spent a good long while playing this:
Sim Tower. Don’t ask me why I preferred this to other Sims games, as I don’t understand it myself. The aim was to create happy workers in your office building. If your people had to wait too long for the lift, they got angry. They turned red. You failed. You wept. You – ahem, I – loved it.
Years have past since these heady, lift-filled days. Games have moved on. They’re more complicated, visually more stunning, ever more engaging. Sims have moved on. You can create entire villages now, you can populate them with characters. With personalities. You can make your characters fall in love. It’s almost a tiny bit like writing a book. Nowadays I’m usually too busy writing books to find out, though you might find me dancing in front of the Wii instead, because that’s probably my favourite kind of computer game now.
I’ve written a book about a Sims-style game, though. My main character creates profiles for all her friends and finds that anything she alters in the settings comes true in real life. And she’s in control of their looks, their lives, their loves… What could possibly go wrong? Kiss Date Love Hate is out in February 2012.
P.S. I’ve included links to free downloads of the games above, in case anyone’s in a retro gaming mood…