Retro dream for gam­ing fa­natic

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JU­LIAN RAETHEL

Mario Brothers, Pac­man, Pong, Space In­vaders.

The mere men­tion of th­ese ti­tles would get any gamer’s nos­tal­gia run­ning hot.

But Mark Bar­low takes things a step fur­ther.

The 45-year-old is keep­ing those mem­o­ries alive and kick­ing in his St Johns home.

Walk­ing into Mr Bar­low’s gam­ing lair the heart starts rac­ing and mem­o­ries come flood­ing back.

‘‘It’s those flash­back mo­ments I see in peo­ple that get me buzzing,’’ he says.

‘‘When we have ex­hibits I get the older gen­er­a­tion com­ing up and say­ing, ‘ I used to be the cham­pion at that game’.’’

‘‘So you get the young gamers ver­sus the old play­ers and it’s great to see.’’

Mr Bar­low has been in love with com­put­ers and video games since he was a 10-year-old head­ing off to com­puter camp.

He mowed lawns for two years to save up for his first com­puter, the Sin­clair ZX80.

The self-con­fessed ‘‘su­per geek’’ started pro­gram­ming at the age of 12.

Two years later he was of­fered £1000 by a Bri­tish com­pany for his first com­mer­cial pro­gramme.

It was used in the game Jet­pack in 1983 which was re-re­leased on the Xbox 360 as Jet­pack Re­fu­elled in 2007.

‘‘I’ve learned over 30 dif­fer­ent lan­guages – in com­put­ers I mean,’’ Mr Bar­low says.

‘‘I don’t do much de­vel­op­ment any­more and fo­cus more on my en­tre­pre­neur­ial projects.’’

To­day Mr Bar­low owns more than 1000 video games and items of com­puter gear that he’s been col­lect­ing all his life, from the Com­modore 64 to the Xbox One.

His dream of start­ing up New Zealand’s first vin­tage com­puter game mu­seum, Tech­vana, is also gain­ing trac­tion.

Mr Bar­low en­vi­sions the old as well as new tech­nolo­gies on dis­play, par­tic­u­larly those de­signed by New Zealand com­pa­nies.

It al­ready has the sup­port of Ap­ple co-founder Steve Woz­niak.

‘‘I do host retro gam­ing nights from time to time and they’re al­ways fun,’’ Mr Bar­low says.

‘‘The newer tech­nol­ogy does ex­cite me more but a vi­tal part of learn­ing about com­put­ers is un­der­stand­ing where they’ve come from.’’

Photo: JU­LIAN RAETHEL

Game on: Mark Bar­low is a self-con­fessed com­puter game tragic.

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