It all started in 1994. Tearing back the birthday wrapping I unveiled a copy of Sensible Soccer for my Acorn. I’d been dropping hints (well, I say ‘hints’; in truth I don’t think they were that subtle) for months, after seeing it ranked at #4 in a magazine supplement listing the Top 100 Acorn games of all time. Never thought that would be a sentence I’d type. It was a game I’d heard lots about on other platforms but I didn’t own a console (besides my trusty Sega Master System) now it was finally available on my computer!

By the time I got it, it was more or less out of date already; both in the data (it was a special edition based on the 1992 European Championships, and with team data for the European club competitions in the 1992/93 season) and also the technology – Sensible World of Soccer was going to take the world by storm with teams from…well, all around the world, and management options too.

I’ve never been a gamer, as you can probably tell by my choice of console. But something about the game grabbed me instantly. Years later, and I bought one of these which is a fantastically retro device with Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder (which I also had for the Acorn; it got fiendishly difficult very quickly, not helped by all of the green backdrops which played havoc with my colourblindness – it’s no fun if you can’t see your troops either because they’re too well camouflaged) and Megalomania (which I’ve never played).

I’ve been having a bit of a nostalgic phase recently, partly because I’ve been thinking about an idea for a monologue which is all about memories (the good and the bad kind, not just rose-tinted backward glances). A combination of that and the impending Champions League final have compelled me to dig this back out. I think what I find most enjoyable about it is it’s simplicity and immediacy.

I never really liked the FIFA games and even though my friends’ copies of the Pro Evo series are good competitive fun and about as realistic as you’re going to get on a computer screen, as far as I’m concerned it’s never matched the heart of Sensible Soccer. I couldn’t tell you anything that I’ve achieved in either of those games, yet I can vividly remember my first ever goal on Sensi, a curling effort from Roberto Donadoni for plucky Italy in a 2-1 defeat to the mighty Bulgaria. I remember subjecting Quickshot Python joysticks to all kinds of violent abuse in the pursuit of glory (and even more so when defeat beckoned). And most of all I remember saying, “Oh, just one more game,” and then before you know it you’ve played an entire 38-game European Super League season in one sitting.

I’ve been thinking about games recently, especially with all of the press for L.A. Noire – and specifically thinking about storytelling and humour in games. I’ve (sporadically) played games which are funny and tell tales, and that got me thinking about the concept of writing scripts for games. While I try to work out several ideas currently only in my head, that’s one of the ones which I’d love to pursue but wouldn’t know where to start. But that’s a thought for another day. For now, I’m content with making Des Walker dive across the penalty box for a headed clearance, or making Marco Van Basten pummel the ball into the back of the net on the turn. That’s pretty much as good as it gets.

But for the gamers among you…what narrative-driven games would you recommend trying out? Preferably games available for PC (including any classic games which might be available at sites like Home of the Underdogs), but you never know, I could be tempted to invest in a proper console. Really.