“The Feel of Sweaty Fingers” – The CH LUDENS Team’s First Memories of Digital Games

by the CH Ludens Team

How did we as scientists become what we are today? Where does our interest in digital games come from? Join us on a short autobiographical journey to the ludic beginnings of the CH LUDENS team.

Table of Contents


My earliest video game memories are all related to Meinolf Amekudzi’s work in the late 1980ies. His family name back in the days was Schneider, and you might know his company Dongleware Verlags GmbH, under which he released the games. I played BOLO, Spacola, and of course, Oxyd on my father’s Atari ST. I remember how these games felt utterly alien, but in a fascinating and engaging way, and I can still vividly recall the Oxyd sound effects or how I traded toilet paper in Spacola. Then came Amiga and Monkey Island

Oxyd, Screenshot (Source: DOS Games Archive).
Oxyd, Screenshot (Source: DOS Games Archive).


My first encounter with games was mainly through what was marketed as children’s and girl’s games in the early 2000s. I remember vividly how me and a bunch of other girls sat around the computer in my friend’s living room and played Barbie Adventure: Riding Club and I have similar memories relating to Sims 2, Nintendogs and a couple of games based on children’s books and TV shows such as Simsala Grimm and Käpt’n Blaubär. At some point, when gaming kind of stopped being a group activity with the girls around me, my aunt recommended Age of Mythology to me which then sparked my fascination with history games.

Barbie Adventure: Riding Club, Screenshot (Source: Moby Games)
Barbie Adventure: Riding Club, Screenshot (Source: Moby Games)


To be honest, my memory is a little hazy: the very first digital games were probably little mini-games along the lines of Pong! that you could play on matchbox-sized LCD screened handhelds and were very popular on long trips in the dark green Ford Taunus in the back seat (without a seatbelt, of course). The next thing that comes to mind is some kind of rudimentary dungeon crawler that I played on my dad’s PC with an amber-colored screen. And then – finally, the Super Nintendo with its colorful game worlds – a revelation! But it wasn’t until my teenage years that I spent countless hours playing with my friend Thomas, including classics like Need for Speed, Interstate ’76, Redneck Rampage , Comanche CD and the like. Before this new PC era, we played Summer Games or banned (!!!) games like Command of Syria on C64.

Interstate '76, Cover Art (source: GamePro).
Interstate ’76, Cover Art (source: GamePro).


The feel of sweaty fingers on the Game Boy plastic while reaching higher levels of Super Mario Land (Nintendo 1989) on rainy days and dreaming of Tetris (Nintendo 1989) at night must be my earliest memories of playing digital games. Endless afternoons with school friends exchanging cartridges and playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (Konami 1990), Gargoyle’s Quest (Capcom 1990), or Solar Striker (Nintendo 1990) were full of warmth, and I dived deeply into those characteristic worlds that are still burned in in endless memories. Some friends I only visited to play Super Mario Bros. 2 (Nintendo 1988), DuckTales (Capcom 1989), or The Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy (Taito 1991) on the NES in their living room in front of their whole family. Later I remember selling my beloved Super Nintendo because I felt the Sega Mega Drive was way cooler, particularly because of Sonic & Knuckles (Sega 1994) and their version of Disney’s Aladdin (Virgin 1993) that had that magic feel to it. I was super frustrated I could not afford a Nintendo 64 and stopped playing for a long time, until I was sucked into the wasteland of Fallout 3 (Bethesda 2008) more than 10 years later, making me measure every gameworld to that memory of immersion.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan, Cover Art (source: Wikipedia)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan, Cover Art (source: Wikipedia)


I was born in 1980 in Vienna and I came into contact with digital games quite early. My father was a civil engineer and had from early on computers in his office, which was on the same floor as our apartment. The question of which was the first game I played, however, is not that easy to answer. What was the first digital game I played? In the beginning, Game & Watch devices were important to me because all my friends at school had them. These were early handheld devices with each one game and an LCD screen. I remember that we called them Tric and Tronic. Bombsweeper was my first one, which I got at primary school (for a good school report maybe?). But it could also have been for one of the longer car journeys during the holidays. I think I was very enthusiastic at the same time and loved the turquoise appliance with the notched metal plate. At the same time, I remember that I “actually” would have preferred the Donkey Kong game. In any case, it’s possible that my introduction to the medium was with Nintendo. (In fact I later got Donkey Kong II.) But my first contact with digital games could also have been my fathers Schneider CPC, where I played Donkey.bas (developed by Bill Gates). Then I spent most of my early years on my PS/2, which I got in 1988/1989 playing King’s Quest III and Space Quest II with an English dictionary on my side helping me to find the right sentences for the parser: “Take fruit”. “Eat fruit.” “Restore”. I played a lot of games alone in the afternoons and evenings after school but also together with my best friends Amir and Niko especially Graphic Adventures and Strategy Games.


This is not an easy question for me because I feel like I’ve been surrounded by video games since I was born (1995). I have dozens of memories of video games from when I was very young. I am the youngest of a family of five children. Everyone, including my parents, had a computer for gaming. I got my first personal computer at 8 years old, but I already often played on others’ computers. Then, when I wasn’t playing, I spent my days going from room to room to see what others were playing: The Legend of Kyrandia (Westwood Studios), Dracula (DreamCatcher Interactive), Broken Sword (Revolution Software), Full Throttle (LucasArts), Prince of Persia (Broderbund), Doom, Wolfenstein (id Software), Duke Nukem (Apogee Software), Command and Conquer (Westwood Studios), Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment), SimCity, The Sims (Maxis), Theme Park (Bullfrog Productions), Quake (id Software), Unreal Tournaments (Epic Games), Half-Life (and other Valve Corporation games), Re-Volt (Acclaim), Need for Speed (Electronic Arts), Pro Evolution Soccer (Konami – played with a flight simulator joystick!),… These are just a few examples that spring to mind, but there are dozens more. My daily routine was to play games or watch my family play games. This introduced me, directly or indirectly, to most of the famous PC games of the 90s. On the other hand, I was never really in touch with consoles until the Xbox 360: Mario, Sonic and the others are mysteries to me!

The Legend of Kyrandia, screenshot (source: gog.com)


The more I’ve been studying games and how others play, the more I’ve been wanting to keep these memories for myself. Therefore, I’ll be short. More than the games, I’d like to remember my family playing games. My father, a school teacher, was bringing home a Macintosh every Summer, along with illegal copies of games provided by his colleagues. The first game I would own was Beyond Dark Castle (which I’ve never finished). In parallel, I was spending a lot of time on my small collection of Game & Watch’s, then my Game Boy. I fondly remember my mother and grandmother playing them endlessly. A few years later, they would be so obsessed with destroying Tetris’ lines on the NES that the only thing my brother and I could do was go outside to play… (what a shame!)

Beyond Dark Castle (screenshot from the Macintosh version)

Header Image by Gilles Sulzberger.

Cite this blog post
CH Ludens (2024, May 13). “The Feel of Sweaty Fingers” – The CH LUDENS Team’s First Memories of Digital Games. Confoederatio Ludens. Retrieved June 14, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/11nw9

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