Profile Atarian: Mark Androvich
The Gift That Keeps On Giving
I didn't actually ask for one. I knew it was too expensive and unreasonable to ask for, so I requested a Mattel hand-held football instead. My parents were fair to the extreme when it came to gifts. They always spent the same amount of money on my sister and I, down to the last penny. But, in 1979, I noted that the vast majority of presents under the tree were for her. Eventually, there remained only a single Mattel football-shaped box for me.
It wasn't football--it was Air Sea Battle for the 2600. It wasn't from my parents either--it was from my grandmother. "Perhaps she misunderstood what you asked for," my parents explained. It was hard to hide my disappointment, but then I noticed a small envelope still left under the tree. Inside was a card that read: "Look under our bed." My feet touched all of three steps on the way upstairs. There it was! An Atari 2600!
"We thought it would last longer than the football would," my Dad said. Truer words have never been spoken! That 2600 became a source of a lot of pleasure over the next few years. It kept me out of trouble, and sparked my interest in computers when I convinced my Dad to purchase an Atari XL computer a few years later. I also ended up buying every Atari videogame system ever made. While I never became a programmer or engineer, opting instead for law school, I continued to enjoy videogames into adulthood.
The Videogame Career
"How, then, did the Atari 2600 impact your career?" you are probably wondering. In my 20's, I started collecting old systems and games and frequently contributed reviews and articles to both fanzines and, later on, to Web sites. These writing experiences helped me to get a job as a freelance videogame reviewer for a couple of national magazines. Having put my legal career on hold, todayI review PlayStation /PS2 games for PSE2 magazine, and also write game strategy guides published by Prima. In the past few years I've had the chance to meet "heroes" from my youth.
Not baseball players or movie stars, but videogame programmers like David Crane, Howard Warshaw, Rob Fulop, and Ed Logg. I've also been able to relive fond childhood memories with hundreds of people all over the country who also grew up as part of the "Atari Generation." And, unbelievably, I've been able to get paid to do something I truly feel passionate about.
To think that I owe it all to that one magical Christmas present. Thanks again, Mom and Dad.