Melissa is the author of more than a dozen books for kids and teens, including The Prairie Thief, Inch and Roly and the Sunny Day Scare, Fox and Crow Are Not Friends, and the Martha and Charlotte Little House books. She lives in San Diego with her husband, Scott Peterson, and their six kids. Melissa has been blogging about her family’s reading life at Here in the Bonny Glen since 2005. She is @melissawiley on Twitter and @bonnyglen on Instagram.
CB: What do you remember about the first video game you ever played?
MW: First video game I played had to be Pong. I think my dad brought it home from Radio Shack, if I recall correctly. My little sisters and I were enthralled. There is a certain shade of glowing green that always brings Pong rushing back to my mind. Was it even really green? That’s how I remember it.
CB: What games did you play the most when you were a kid? What did you love about them?
MW: We got an Atari 2600 when I was around 8th or 9th grade. I. LOVED. THAT. THING. Fave game: Adventure. The way the dragons curled up when you stabbed them! I went through a whole blissful nostalgia-binge not long ago, revisiting Adventure on a desktop version. It’s amazing the wave of feelings it conjures up. That exhilaration of discovery; the happy state of tension I love in a game.
We also had Atari Pinball and my prowess at that game became a badge of honor — I rocked it. Nobody could skirt just this side of a tilt like I could. For a kid who was hopeless at sports and miserable in gym class, excelling at a video game was a confidence boost beyond measure. I was this tiny, scrawny, late-blooming kid, but at Pinball I could whip my best friend’s older brothers. I’m still proud. :)
Other friends had a ColecoVision, and I spent hours at their place playing Donkey Kong. They also had an Indiana Jones game (Atari? Coleco?) that I loooved. Those snakes, the music, the ankh. To this day I love adventure games where you have to puzzle your way through.
CB: What role do games play in your life today?
MW: Pretty major, I’d have to say! I have six game-enthusiast kids, and playing together is truly one of my greatest joys. My favorite group game is Minecraft — I’m fond of sandbox games. We have our own server and I love logging in to see what new marvels they’ve built in our world. In my own world (created before we set up the server) I have a giant Tudor mansion and English garden. I’m constantly tearing down wings and renovating. :)
We play a fair amount of Wii Mario Kart and Wii Sport together (especially Scott and the kids, for the latter). I also like the ski jump game in Wii Fit.
We love World of Warcraft but unfortunately my computer is the only one in the house that can handle it, so the kids can’t do much there and it’s been a long while since we’ve logged on.
The game I loved most of all and mourn deeply is Glitch. Another sandbox game, but with art and music like none other, and a charming, deeply creative community. All my phone ringtones are from Glitch which means constant nostalgia pangs. We were so sad when it shut down! Tiny Speck released all the assets to the public, though, and a couple of teams of volunteers are working to recreate the game, so I have high hopes of feeding sloths and milking butterflies again someday.
I expect to continue this series through the October publication of my book Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet. If there’s anyone in the gamer or kidlit camp that you’d love to see me feature in upcoming posts in this series, please drop me a line or tweet at me or just leave a message in the comments.