I was obsessed with video games from a very early age. From the time I first played Spiderman on an Atari 2600, or spent several days coaxing a handful of Dragon 32 cassettes to load on the machine that my dad had borrowed from a workmate (I can't quite remember which came first), what fascinated me about the medium was its potential to deliver wildly varied experiences. I would pore over magazines and game catalogues, looking at screenshots and cover art and wondering what those games would be like. I also also used to draw a lot, in school notebooks and on whatever pieces of paper I could get my hands on, so naturally I ended up drawing games that I'd made up. On a recent trip home, I dug around in my mum's attic for as many of these drawings as I could find, with the intention of posting them and describing them to the best of my memory.
I found a large number of drawings, so I'm going to have to spread them across multiple posts. In this one I'm going to focus on what I assume are some of the earliest drawings, dating back to about 1988, when I would have been 7-8. Click on the drawings to view them at full size!
This game doesn't have a name here, but I found a later drawing where I recreated it and named it. The first screen appears to be inspired by Lone Raider on the Atari 800, which had a maze-like level, and also levels where you got beamed in and out of a mothership. I think the second screen was mostly drawn by someone else, a collection of shapes which I added to and drew a stickman at the bottom of.
I'm not sure what the intention with this level was, but the lines on either side imply that it plays like Pong. It seems most likely that it was inspired by the Atari 800XL Pong clone Video Classics/Blip, which had a mode set in space with two asteroids floating around.
These are all pretty abstract, and I don't remember anything about them. I assume the car in the second game is supposed to have a gun turret on top of it, not a Google Streetview camera. The final game has a snake/crocodile hybrid probably inspired by the crocodiles from Donkey Kong Jr, which features in a number of my drawings.
Hill sort of looks like it started with a drawing of some hills, to which I just added a bunch of things to collect/avoid. I assume you control the snowmobile thing in the top left. The Donkey Kong Jr crocodile returns in Finder! The player presumably controls the blue car-with-a-drill-on-the-front, which was inspired by the cars from Indy 500 on the Atari 2600.
Eat em Up looks like I was going for a Pac-Man clone, but couldn't be bothered drawing an entire maze. Binbag is a game that I would genuinely play. I could be wrong about this, but I feel like the wrecking ball was inspired by the boss from the end of the third level of Robocop on the Atari ST, which would date it at around 1990. Zapp Head is self-explanatory.
The Troll looks pretty boring. I re-imagined it in a later drawing, and added an actual troll, which is sorely lacking from this drawing. I would probably have seen Big Trouble in Little China in 1988, which I means I was probably 7 when I drew this. It shows.
From the same sheet of paper as The Troll and Big Trouble in Little China. All I knew about Dune was that it had sand-worms in it, which I obviously drew as a brown snake. Bye-Lock sounds like it was just a phrase that popped into my head. I did actually play Pole Position 2 in an arcade, but I'm not sure where I got the banked track from. In Space sort of looks like Space Combat with fortresses.
This was drawn on four pages torn out of a school notebook, and is clearly inspired by Adventure on the Atari 2600. Like most people, I assumed the dragon I saw in screenshots was some kind of bird, but I also assumed that you played as it. The crocodile/snakes make a return, and this time they clearly have legs. There is also a dagger and two diamonds, for some reason.
You have won! The final screen features three brick walls, two wooden trap-doors, and two yellow things that look like beaks. There appears to be a castle at the top, which is your reward for victory.
A number of my drawings took the form of LCD games, although it's hard to tell from Save The Wale as I drew everything in colour. There's a distinct lack of understanding of ergonomic controls, but I think a lot of LCD games from the period got this wrong, too. The presence of a punch button implies that you have to save the whale through the application of violence. I'm not sure what the coloured dots in both the main image and the small screenshot are meant to represent; a jellyfish, maybe?
Alien Invaders is another LCD game from the same page as Save the Wale. Helpfully, the buttons for Left and Right are reversed. The first level seems to play like Asteroids, except that you play as the alien ship that appears periodically. In level 2 it seems like you have to abduct people. The second half of the page seems like a failed drawing of Save the Wale that I gave up on.
David and Goliath must have been around the time I was learning about the story in religion class at school (This becomes kind of a running theme later, with absurd results). Fly Trap is pretty straight-forward. The red object on the left appear to be a box full of plant food. Man-Hole appears to feature a long-fingered Hulk. Ghosts! is clearly from the time when I was obsessed with the Ghostbusters game on the Atari 800. Bug Lift looks like a kind of reverse Pooyan, where you have to shoot insects scrolling upwards.
Looking at it now, I can't tell if Speed + Power was supposed to be a motor racing game, or an athletics game. That's what I get for representing things with dots. Odd Corse, with its misspelled title, is basically just a collection of things that I threw together. I never drew level 2.
When I was around 7 or 8, I found a drawing at school that one of the younger children had made that appeared to be of a bunk-bed. As I was playing a lot of Donkey Kong at the time, I drew some characters over the top of it, and used it as the backdrop for a platformer called The Fly. I was hoping to find the original drawing, but all I found was this booklet that I made describing the game.
'The Fly is a game of skill and quick reaction'. I feel like this was taken from something else, or maybe my dad suggested it. I replicated the original drawing here, but it's quite hard to make a lot of it out. The description on the right reads: "When you eat the power block you can kill the wellwhos. But watch out it doesn't last long. The idea of the game is to rescue the Princess Fly. Have a look on the other page, if you look closely some of the wellwhos have a spot on them and when you eat them they give you more power to eat more wellwhos. How to play: Move the fly up the ladder". I feel like 'wellwhos' was a misspelling of 'wheelos'. I clearly intended to create more levels, but stopped mid-way through describing the first.
More interesting misapprehensions. The two Star Wars drawings on the left were based on screenshots of the Empire Strikes Back for the Atari 2600, but I incorrectly assumed that you played as the AT-AT, so in level 2 I drew it in a side-scrolling platformer. Star Wars 2 was probably based on a screenshot of Jedi Arena for the Atari 2600, hence the circular arena, but with gameplay that was more like Space War. I have no idea what's happening in the final image.
The Street War series consists of three top-down games in which you play as a car with a large gun mounted on top of it. Again, clearly influenced by Adventure, but I just drew a load of arbitrary shapes for enemies. The top left image probably wasn't anything to do with games, it was just a drawing that I'd done which I wasn't happy with, so I decided to use the rest of the sheet of paper.
I don't really know why several of the games here are labelled 'Computer'. The top left image is very similar to the first page of the Adventure clone I drew, and the top right image is the same as the forth drawing from those pages. I get the impression that I made these drawings afterwards. Everything else is kind of mixed up; there a rocket launch second from the left at the top, a kind of stacked Space Invaders clone to the right of that, two Pole Position clones below them (One of which added the innovation of a brick wall in the middle of the track), and a skiing game which seems to imply that I thought the aim of slalom skiing was to jump over tennis nets.
Look Out Below presumably starts with you being kicked off a building and having to climb your way back up. It was probably inspired by Stuntman for the Atari 800, which I haven't been able to find any screenshots or videos of! It was pretty similar to the 2600 Spiderman game, at any rate.