It was on a family holiday that videogames first got their hooks into me. Sure, they were around before that, and I was vaguely aware of them, even 'dabbling' on occasion, such as when I played the table-top classic, Astro Wars, for practically the whole weekend I stayed over at my cousin's house, for example, or when I played Frostbite on a school friend's Atari VCS after school now and then. At that point though, they were never anything more than a passing distraction.
Up until this point I'd had little interest in arcades. Sure, I had seen most of the big-name machines like Centipede, Asteroids and the like dotted around here and there and I had a bash on occasion, like when my dad would give me a few 10p coins to use on the Space Invaders machine at my youth club, but videogames were still a niche interest at this time and weren't widely discussed - some games had intrigued me but none had ever truly captured my imagination.
I finally lowered myself into the large seat armed with the coin and immediately felt more important. I deployed it and immediately the game chimed at me as the start button flashed green. After pressing it I was asked to select the music, from an actual car stereo! Magical Sound Shower was selected of course (it had the best name) and the game began, whooshing me onto a bustling start line. The excitement as I floored the accelerator and zoomed away from the start line was immense.
Suffice to say, to the annoyance of my parents and bemusement of my sister, the rest of this holiday was predominantly spent in the various arcades of Torquay, and most of that time, sat in an OutRun machine's seat. I never did get much better at it either, but it was more about the whole experience than getting a high-score, and it always has been with pivotal games like this one.
It's hard to explain how much Outrun means to me. It was the first videogame I ever really played properly - the beginning of what was to become a passionate, not to mention expensive hobby, which has been vigorously pursued ever since. It's a real possibility that, had this encounter not taken place, I may not have even ended up a casual gamer, let alone the hardcore gaming nerd that I became and remain.
The holiday had to end though, and upon returning to Hampshire, the source of my obsession was nowhere to be found. This situation was soon rectified, however. After a hard fought campaign (as touched on here), my parents finally relented and bought me a Sega Master System, on which I had discovered I could play Outrun. I had to pay them back of course, so three years of paper rounds ensued, with all proceeds going to this cause. It didn't matter though - I had Outrun!