Just a brief trip down memory lane, of what was quite possibly the best decade to be alive in, and the greatest peak of the golden age of civilization since the Renaissance.
In 1990, I was in Kindergarten. My life revolved around the playground. I didn’t get an NES until 1991; before that, the family rented it from the local VHS rental place (Movie Time). I used to love going there and browsing their NES games while inhaling the smell of stale buttered popcorn. There used to be a portable computer lab that would come to the classroom. I can’t remember if they were Commodore or Tandy, but they were color. Meanwhile, we were saving up Campbell’s Soup labels so we could get our very own Apple II in the classroom. Word Munchers and Oregon Trail on 5 1/4 floppies for the win.
In 1991, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie came out. I was a huge fan of the cartoon at the time (as well as He-Man, Transformers, and the usual suspects). I owned the t-shirt, the action figures, the breakfast cereal, the wallet, the cups,… even the lame concert cassette tape. Snap bracelets were a huge fad at the time, though it was short-lived (the inner metal part would get exposed and slice up kids’ wrists, so they got banned from school). My mom made me lunch every morning, and it was pretty consistent. Tuna sandwich, PB&J, deviled ham and crackers, Handi-Snacks / Dunkaroos, or Lunchables.
In 1992, I was in 2nd grade. We had to keep a journal. I wrote some boring entries, and did some particularly bizarre drawings. My best friend was John Maz. We were obsessed with The Ren & Stimpy Show. I also liked Salute Your Shorts, Family Double Dare, and Welcome Freshmen. We moved into a new house this year, an old Antibellum home from 1848. I found an old gold coin from the year the house was built, and slowly got into coin collecting. We also got a computer later in the year. It was a 486 SX20, with a CD-ROM drive and Windows 3.1. I discovered how to use a tape recorder, and had a lot of fun creating a “radio show” and other nonsense.
In 1993, Aladdin and Jurassic Park came out. I saw them, but wasn’t really obsessed. I was still playing NES a lot. John Maz got expelled from school. I can’t remember why… probably for cussing out the 3rd grade teacher. Walter was my new friend. We had the most bizarre projects, like the time we built a “quilt” out of Fruit Roll-Up wrappers. My dad somehow got a hold of a 4 CD shovelware collection that you would normally use with an online BBS server. I played a lot of Apogee, iD, Lucasfilm, and Sierra games. Wolfenstein 3-D blew my mind. I spent a lot of time at the Putt-Putt Golf arcade, playing Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II. After school, I’d hang out with Eric May and Chris Smith, and we’d watch Disney cartoons (Goof Troop, Talespin, etc.) and play NES. Spy Hunter, California Games, Rad Racer, Punchout, TMNT, Super Contra, Paperboy….
In 1994, I got my SNES. Super Mario World and Clayfighter were the first games I had for it. I would later buy Super Metroid and Donkey Kong Country, two of the greatest video games ever made. My dad’s friend owned a BBS with a secret pirate channel. I had access to the registered version of every Apogee game, and pretty much everything else. Doom was my favorite game. By this time I was playing PC games and video games all the time. I discovered the joy of Photoshop, Deluxe Paint, PC Paintbrush, and Paint Shop Pro. I would make pictures of President Clinton shooting laser beams out of his eyes to kill aliens, among other things.
In 1995, After years of designing games on paper, I finally built my own video game. It was a first person shooter called Ultimate, that involved killing ninjas and orangutans. It was mostly an inside joke with some friends in 5th grade. Hidden in the game was a digitized image of my little brother in a poorly-drawn Deluxe Paint disco suit, and an audio clip of him singing an improv song about Kool-Aid. You could blow his head off. He was not pleased when he found this out.
In 1996, I was 11-12 years old and starting middle school. I released another version of my game on my website that I created last year. I was a full-on Internet addict, downloading every game I could get my hands on. We were still riding the wave of Seattle-esque grunge music, which had killed off the soft rock fad that had been around since the late ’80s. The music had gotten a little harder though, with Silverchair, Nine Inch Nails, etc.
In 1997, my friend Walter left. I found myself friendless, so I crawled into my shell and started getting a little weird. I invented my own alphabet so nobody could read my writing. I created another violent video game about a robot mercenary. I started drawing bizarre things again. I got a Nintendo 64. I’m pretty sure I spent the entirety of next year playing Goldeneye 007. Like most kids, I was briefly, shamefully, into anime (it was called japanimation then). In case you’re wondering, back in my childhood it wasn’t common to give kids medications for acting weird. And that’s the way it should be, dagnabit.
In 1998, it was my last year of middle school. I was addicted to Valve’s Half-Life. I graduated from Trinity Catholic School and never talked to anyone there ever again. I went to Comdex this year, and I’m actually wearing the lanyard as I type this (it was cooler than the boring government one). I was only 14 at the time, so my dad had to sneak me in. Canon had the best booth babes, that’s about all I remember. Otherwise, lots of virtual reality gadgets that never saw the light of day. I also got a laptop for my birthday. It was a 486 DX40, but hey, laptops cost a small fortune back then. Last I checked, this laptop still works. IBM Thinkpads are built like tanks.
In 1999, I started high school and wasn’t any better off socially. A girl in my class kept passing notes to me, wanting to be my friend. I never wrote back. I relaunched my website as slawdog.com, and started focusing on productivity software. I was the first sophomore in school history to join Journalism class, though I wasn’t particularly into it. I spent most of my time sketching out ideas for video games, productivity software, and websites. This was probably the start of when I really got my creative output up.
Afterward, into the aughts, I graduated high school and never looked back. I went full-force into college and had a really good time. Moved to the east coast and lived there from 2005-2012, and here I am in Atlanta, trying to figure out how the ’90s happened over 12 years ago.