A Journey Into Gaming
Hi everybody, my name is James Marshall and I’d like to welcome you all to Pacman Forum, I’m going to be writing some of the editorial content for the website. Please bear with me, I’m certainly no journalist, just a huge fan of pac-man & retro gaming as a whole. I’ve never really done anything like this before, my punctuation & grammar might not always be perfect, but I thought I would start the content of our new website with a personal story of how I recently became interested in gaming.
I’m 45 years old now and I suppose, like any child of the 80’s, I was brought up with the likes of Nintendo SNES & Gameboy along with the Sega Master System & MegaDrive. I would meet up with my cousin at a weekend & whittle away the hours playing the likes of Sonic & Mario.
But that is where it ended. I’d always been a short, chubby little kid and as soon as I hit puberty I grew a little, lost some weight & started getting into some of the sports teams at school, I’d never been particularly academic & sport soon became the dominant role in my life. School was about cricket, rugby & field hockey whilst my weekends became about football, tennis, squash & a few games of pool whilst enjoying a sneaky underage pint.
And so, like everybody, life then got in the way…exams, university, girls, job & career.
All of a sudden there I was in 2020, 44 years old old & my sporting days long behind me, in a serious relationship & life is pootling away nice and steadily, no drama’s, working in the week & catching up with rest & DIY at a weekend..maybe a take-away on a Saturday night.
But then Covid-19 happened.
All of a sudden the world we all know changed, myself and my girlfriend were both furloughed, we were all told to to stay indoors & like the government told us to do “Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives”…I could only even see my disabled mother when I delivered her shopping to the front door & stepped back!
And so it began. In this first week of Covid lockdown I redecorated my home, caught up with the DIY & watched some Netflix in the evening, but then it all started to dry up, I couldn’t find anything to do to occupy my time..what was I going to do?
Now here’s the thing, my girlfriend loves gaming, has a PlayStation 4, laptop & Nintendo Switch, she’d usually be playing a game on her laptop whilst I was watching TV in the evenings, I didn’t really understand it though, technology had moved on so much since the 80’s, I hadn’t kept up with the changing times, although I listened enthusiastically whilst she told me about her conquests in Final Fantasy or Grand Theft Auto, I really had no idea what she was talking about. The closest I got to a computer game was an occasional game of MarioKart and my girlfriend would revel in the fact that I was completely useless!
I remember the evening so well…my girlfriend borrowed my laptop whilst her own was performing an update. She had visited YouTube to search for a gaming “cheat” and when I received my laptop back, the YouTube screen still open, there it was under “recommended” videos…”The King of Kong”. Now I adore documentaries & I was intrigued…I pressed “Play”.
An hour and a half later I was possessed. The next week became a blur in my quest for information.. who were Billy Mitchell & Steve Wiebe?, who was Walter day?, what was Twin Galaxies? I read everything I could find, scoured the web…I had to know everything and I had to know it NOW. Page after page, website after website, video after video…the love, the hate, the controversies…I was hooked.
So there I was, infatuated by this sudden urge to learn. Now what?
My girlfriend had listened to me talk to her about gaming. She was loving the fact that we now had another common interest & whilst lying in bed one night said “You seem to be so into this, Why not go on Twitch and see if Billy & Steve stream their games live?” My reply “What? There’s a website where I can watch them? And Chat?”
I got out of bed, switched the laptop on, created a Twitch account and unbelievably there he was, playing live Donkey Kong, the one and only Billy Mitchell, the “Evil” anti-hero from King of Kong. I watched him navigate the levels in awe for hour upon hour until my girlfriend entered the living room to tell me it was 5am, I had watched for 5 hours!
Having slept all day after my 5am bedtime, the next night changed everything, I tried to tune into Billy again on Twitch and there it was “Billy Mitchell is currently offline”..my heart sank… Full of disappointment..”While Billy is offline why not check out the following stream..Pacman83”, I clicked the link.
The Twitch stream I then encountered was absolutely jaw dropping, one man and his arcade cabinet joystick in complete control of every movement the little yellow Pac-man fella was making, he had the ghosts on a proverbial string, this genius of a player weaved around the maze with such authority and aplomb that i was staggered, I’d never seen anything like it, I wanted to type in the chat but couldn’t bring myself to be recognised as somebody who hadn’t a clue what they were talking about, but i made the leap.
I asked a question in the chat, i can’t remember what, but as soon as i pressed enter I had my head in my hands now realising how stupid I must appear, I felt embarrassed, I had visions of all the other viewers smirking as this newbie made a fool of himself.
And then it happened..this genius, this manipulator of ghosts, pulled little yellow Pac-man into his “parking spot” and spent the next 10 minutes explaining in terms i could understand the intricacies of the game, no pretense, no laughter, no condescension, the chat joined in & explained various aspects of the game and I realised I’d been accepted. The magician finished his stream that night with “Don’t hesitate to ask any questions”…probably the first time in his life he’s truly regretted saying those words because in the weeks and months to come, I asked, oh boy did i ask.
I had no idea that the person I tuned into that night was Jon Stoodley, one of only 9 people to ever play Pac-man and get what’s called a “Perfect Game”…and this chance meeting changed my life.
And thus my infatuation with Pac-man and all retro gaming began, friendships developed & Jon introduced me to games & gamers, one stream would lead to another and another and I’ve made good friends with so many good, generous people. I have been sent autograph’s from around the world without any expense to myself and been contacted by people who now want to tap into the knowledge I’ve learned.
So I suppose in summary, this isn’t just an essay about how I discovered gaming, it’s a tribute to all you who have welcomed me into your community without hesitation and for that I say thank you with all my heart.
My name is James, I go by the pseudonym Marleyman999 on Twitch, I adore retro gaming & if I’m home I’m usually watching Pac-man, Donkey Kong or arcade gaming. If you’d like to come and say Hi sometime, tune into Jon Stoodley (pacman83)..pure Pac-man genius, Mark Singleton (Mark_S_74)..website founder & Pac-man protege, David Lyne (Charliefar)..easily the greatest all-round British retro gamer, Robbie Lakeman (Lakeman421)..former Donkey Kong WR holder, Justin Elliott (Rayfinkel)..current Donkey Kong Mame WR holder and many many others.
I hope you all enjoy our website.
Article Written by James Marshall.2021