Outrun: a ferry on a school trip to Holland. Tron: an arcade on a day trip to Calais. Space Harrier: Great Yarmouth, August 1986. Rampage: Thorpe Park. R-Type: the pub at the top of the road where everyone went to underage drink. Dragon's Lair: a fun fair.
Konami's Track and Field: the local leisure centre...
The latter was to reinforce my belief that sport simply wasn't in my genes, whether it was real or electronic. I'd tried. God knows you had to try growing up. I dunno what it's like now, but back in the 70s and 80s, not being good at sport was natural selection's way of painting a target on your back.
Your place in the educational food chain depended wholly on the order in which you were chosen for sides. I was usually second to last, or last.
Running I could just about handle, and Judo I more or less scraped through, because I was heavier than everyone else and good at laying on my opponents. But that was about it. I just wasn't a physical sort of kid.
I mean, I get it from an evolutionary standpoint. Back in the caves, the alphas would've been the ones who could bring back the juiciest mammoths, or club their rivals into submission with a heptodon jawbone. Not the ones who were good at drawing stickmen on the walls, or who were smart enough to know what a heptodon was.
I'm pretty certain the fact I was tall and broad-shouldered, coupled to my reticence to hit back - until my final year, mind - made me a soft target for the school's cro-magnons, desperate to be selected as the next alpha, the leader of the tribe. Being good at both sport and bullying was simply them enacting their primal programming; zeroing in on me was like bringing down a lame mastodon - it made them look big and tough.
Way to have a mind of your own, idiots; you are "Darwin's Automatons".
I mean, I wanted to like sport. It would've made life so much easier. But I never found a sport that my brain could engage with. Plus, being virtually blind without my glasses, and having arms and legs several inches longer than my brain believed them to be, I was hopeless at anything which required even the broadest strokes of dexterity.
Cricket. Football. Basketball. Tennis. Climbing ropes. They were just an ordeal that had to be endured. Nobody ever takes the piss out of the thick kids for not knowing, say, where an apostrophe goes. Or the kids who aren't good at art, because they can't do perspective. Be unable to catch a cricket ball, because you can't actually see it coming towards you, and it's the funniest thing ever, apparently.
"Ha ha! Look at the idiot, with his feeble eyes! Let us underline his humiliation by throwing a yoghurt at his head!"
Fate obviously thought watching me flail was hilarious, because it later drew me towards working at Ladbrokes - about as sport-heavy an environment as you could imagine. What's more, when I left there I got a job working on the scoreboard at Wembley Stadium - inputting the scores live, for all the big matches.
But get a load of this, Fate: My entire family are obsessed with football. My dad, uncle, cousins, brother-in-laws...
It has always been slightly difficult to have a conversation with any of the male members of my family, because - lovely as they all are - they don't know what to say to me after we've done the smalltalk. Hell, my father-in-law is literally an Olympian - he represented his country at Judo in the 1976 Montreal Olympics (at least he also likes Doctor Who and computers).
But I'm used to it. I've learned to wing it.
Certainly, I'm no longer someone who lets anybody push him around physically, and I can just about hold my own in a conversation about football with, say, foreign waiters or cab drivers. But the latter nevertheless bores me.
More than bores me - it irritates me how football is everything in this world. How that's acceptably geeky, and other geeky things aren't. I despise how it's a common language, especially among men - how people assume you like football, if you're a man. I hate that I have to continue to pretend, and conceal myself to that degree, in order to survive and fit into the world.
Getting good at Track and Field was all about fitting in.
The local leisure centre hosted us twice a week for swimming, and then - once we could choose which activities we wanted to take in PE - the aforementioned judo. Afterwards, while waiting for the coach to take us back to school, we got to hang about in the foyer.
The foyer's Track and Field machine was a lure for every boy in my year, and there was something of an ongoing championship. People would crowd around, cheering, punching the air. It felt like a way for the likes of me to be good at sport. Indeed, it was a way for the likes of me to be good at sport... but not actually me.
While many of those I considered lumped in with my social strata were somehow physical savants when it came to being able to move their index finger up and down really fast, my knuckle joints let me down. I would hammer those buttons as fast as I could, which was about half as fast as I needed to hammer them.
Eventually, I gave up trying to compete - why put myself through the humiliation? - and would go and get some hot Bovril from the soup machine. At least I couldn't fail at eating, probably. Although, I do have a tendency to spill whatever I'm eating down my front...
THE CALCULATOR OLYMPICS
Ant then somebody worked out that you could bring Track & Field back to school by using a calculator,.
Hitting 1, then plus twice, followed by equal, you can make the numerical display increase by one with every press of the equals key. The Calculator Olympics - as they became known - took over the school for a term or two.
My friend Jon - who I'm sure would hardly describe himself as a Sebastian Coe on the real sports field - was the best in our year at Calculator Olympics, wiping the floor with all comers at the 100m (first to tap to 100), and beyond. Calculator-based 500m, 5,000m and marathons all became spectator sports at breaks and lunchtimes.
Once again, I tried to fit in, but I couldn't do it. Even tapping a key on a poxy-arsed calculator faster than anybody else, was yet another sport I was no good at.
And I couldn't do Biro Grand Prix either. Typically played in the back of schoolbooks - one student would draw a racetrack, including obstacles such as oil slicks and potholes - each player, using a different coloured Biro, would take turns to sort of flick the pen across the page, aiming to make it all the way around the track before the other player in as few flicks as possible.
Sport, however it is defined, is simply not in my blood, and it's why I don't like playing games online, why I prefer single player experiences.
Spawning and getting shot, seeing my name languishing repeatedly at the bottom of the leaderboard, getting called a "fag" by cackling youths... it churns up all those feelings about being at the bottom of the school food chain, being picked last, catcalled and jeered by ignorant thugs. I spent the best part of 12 years enduring that. I don't have the energy to go through it again.
Fortunately, I wouldn't have to.
GAMES OF MY YEARS: THE ARCADES - PART ONE by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: SEGA MASTER SYSTEM - PART ONE by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: SEGA MASTER SYSTEM - PART TWO by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: ATARI - PART ONE by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: ATARI - PART TWO by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: THE ZX SPECTRUM PART ONE by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: THE ZX SPECTRUM PART TWO by Mr Biffo