lowbrowculture

collects stories and ideas from John Kelly

Happy Birthday Elite!

Screen shot 2009-09-23 at 09.04.26

Hard to believe, but Elite came out 25 years ago this month. Twenty-five years!

This makes me feel very, very old. Still, Elite has held up really well over the years. That must mean I have too, right? Er…

The first time I played Elite was on my cousin’s Commodore 64. I was barely out of nappies and for the life of me, I couldn’t wrap my head around the whole space-trading thing. Having to keep track any number of variables is kind of difficult when you’ve got the attention span of a sparrow. I had no idea what was going on and understood maybe every second word in a sentence. “What is ‘narcotics’?” “Drugs.” “What is ‘drugs’?” But I loved the game’s 3D engine and the feeling that you could go anywhere, do anything. All this in a game that took up less than 22K of memory - that’s less than an average email. And I still count my first successful docking with a space station as one of my videogaming high points.

If you fancy playing a bit of Elite right now, grab a copy of Oolite, which runs on almost anything.