Having grown up during the golden age of video games, I have fond memories of picking up an Atari joystick (which had an actual stick), playing the original Super Mario Bros., the first Sonic the Hedgehog, and Mario 64. Curiously, just as much as I remember those games, I remember the rooms I played them in. Let's take a trip down memory lane and take a look at how the living room has changed over the decades.
My first video game memory was playing Joust and Pitfall on the Atari 2600. I had to be around four years old, and this is honestly one of the only memories I can still recall from that age. I remember the old shag carpet on the living room floor, and the brown pajamas my sister wore when we played together. I'm not sure why this particular memory sticks in my head from that young age, but I'm glad it does. (The living room pictured above, from production designer Jodi Ginnever, has the same shag carpeting that I remember.)
Another one of my oldest memories is the first time I encountered Super Mario Bros. on the original Nintendo. My parents brought me along to their friend's home, and their son had the system and game. I remember going in the beige carpeted room and watching him play it on a television screen much larger than the one in our home. I was amazed watching him zip through one of the stages — breaking bricks that launched coins with a catchy 'ba-ding'. But that wasn't all, he later pulled out a Nintendo zapper (the gun accessory) and showed me how to play Duck Hunt. My kid self must have been floored, because I still remember that moment (along with the room) pretty vividly.
I remember seeing Super Mario 64 for the first time at a Toys 'R Us. I walked into the store with my mom, and lined up to demo the amazing three-dimensional world with a controller that looked like a spaceship. I got that game and system for Christmas that year, and I would sneak into the main living room at night to hook the game and system up to the big screen television. The couches were poofy, the carpets were beige (still), and there was a lot of crown molding — actually, that room hasn't changed much since then.
A lot changed for me personally from the 90's to the mid-2000's. I graduated college, moved to another state (Minnesota!), and got a job. I was an adult, or at least trying to fake it as one. Then the Nintendo Wii came out, and all the child-like enthusiasm towards video games was restored. My friends and I would host game parties and we played Wii Sports and Mario Party in rooms not too different from the one above — everyone proud of the snazzy new flat-screen they just bought.
It's still early to see what is going to define the living room of this decade. But from recent home tours it seems things are moving towards a blend of all the good stuff from the past — re-imagined with new materials and finishes. As mobile technologies become more pervasive, televisions and games themselves seem to be becoming less prominent — and I'm beginning to come across more rooms without them at all then ever before. It'll be interesting to see it all unfold right in front of our eyes here on Apartment Therapy.
Do you have any memories of favorite video games? Do you remember the room you played them in?
(Images: 1. Jodi Ginnever 2. Flickr user Michael O'Neill licensed through Creative Commons 3. Roomzaar 4-5. Chris Perez)