April Slocombe, our blog contributor, shares how she has enjoyed playing games and how autism has made certain games difficult!
Since I was young, I have enjoyed playing various types of games, ranging from board games, to computer games and physical activity games. Despite enjoying playing these games, I have also experienced challenges with them.
Although these games were fun for me, some of them might not have been fun for other children at my age. In my junior years for example, my fellow pupils no longer wanted to play Hide and Seek with me because they thought it was too childish for them. As part of my autism, I liked things that were aimed at children who were younger than me.
Sometimes at primary school I would play games inside the classroom such as Pass the Parcel. I had challenges with this game as well. My parents didn’t allow me to eat sweets at school and my teachers were aware of this. During one notable occasion playing Pass the Parcel, one of the teachers made sure I wasn’t holding the parcel when the music stopped in case it contained sweets. I thought it was very unfair because I really wanted to win a prize.
On another occasion where I played Pass the Parcel, I had a different teacher and she made sure the game was played fairly. When I held a parcel as the music stopped, I unwrapped the outer layer of tissue paper only to find a small packet of sweets…I had to give them to someone else.
I also liked to play physical games in children’s clubs at holiday resorts such as Haven, Pontins and Butlin’s. When I was playing a game in a circle at the Tiger Club on a Haven holiday in Aberystwyth, the staff member who was leading the game told me I was out, but I didn’t like being out of the game because I was competitive and wanted to win!
My video gaming also started on the same Pontins holiday at Brean Sands, where there was a room where I could play Sony PlayStation games such as Bust-A-Move 2, where I had to link three or more bubbles in the same colour in order to score points. While the maximum age to play video games at Pontins Brean Sands was 14 or 15 years, it was 10 or 11 at the now-defunct Pontins Blackpool.
When I played on the PlayStation at Brean Sands in Blackpool, a member of staff asked me my age and when I told her I was 11, she said I was too old to play computer games on site. This made me feel very upset.
Also, when I was 11, I started to play computer games on my brother’s Sony PlayStation that he received as a present for his 10th birthday. The first game I played on my brother’s console was Moto Racer 2, a motorbike racing game.
I also played Bust-A-Move 2 again, as well as the original Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon games. They were all very fun and entertaining games for me. I was also glad that I wasn’t too old to play any of the games at my family home as long as they were appropriate for my age. I can also remember renting games from Blockbuster when it was still open.
For my 15th birthday, I received my own Sony PlayStation 2. It was better than the original Sony PlayStation because not only could I play PlayStation 2 games on it, but I could also play my existing PlayStation 1 games on it, as well as DVDs and audio CDs.
The first PlayStation 2 game I remember playing is The Simpsons: Road Rage. I was a big fan of The Simpsons and racing games, so this game combined both elements perfectly. I had lots of fun on my PlayStation 2.
When I was 19, I got a Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable) for Christmas. It was essentially a handheld version of the PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2. The first game I can recall playing on my PSP is The Sims 2: Pets, and it was a great life simulation game (I also perceived it as a role-playing game due to thinking I was playing the parts of Sims characters).
However, the loading times on the UMD (the type of disc that was used in the PSP) were very slow. I also found it difficult to complete a level in The Simpsons Game on PSP, so I stopped playing it altogether.
Four years after I received my PSP, I was given an iPhone 3GS for my birthday. I started playing games on it such as Angry Birds and Doodle Jump. Upon its launch in 2012, I also played Candy Crush Saga, but I eventually gave up on it. The game I mostly play on my new iPhone XR nowadays is Gala Bingo. Although, because it is a game where I gamble with real money, I only play it occasionally.
At around the same time as I played playground games at school, I also enjoyed playing board games such as Monopoly, Scrabble and Articulate. More recently I regained my interest in board games by discovering an independent games company called Big Potato Games.
Their library consists of Obama Llama One and Two (rhyming and charades games), Scrawl (an adult party game that is a cross between Chinese Whispers and Pictionary) and Blockbuster (based on the former video rental shop chain). Even though the Big Potato Games are mostly fun, I sometimes find them challenging, especially Blockbuster, but it depends on if I know the film to quote, act out as a charade, or describe in one word.
Although I mostly enjoyed playground, board and computer games, some particular games I struggled with were card games and chess. I also played these at primary school, but I found them very difficult to play.
In summary, I have had the most positive experiences with playing board games, as well as PlayStation 2 games; however, the areas I particularly experienced challenges with were the playground games, Pass the Parcel, card games and chess at school. I have also learnt how to gamble responsibly when I play on the Gala Bingo app (or website). What I can say, is there is a game for everyone!