Recapturing Childhood Joy

This week in preparation for my newsletter I’m thinking of childhood trauma and childhood joy – well honestly, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately because I’ve been working through some childhood trauma of my own. But the childhood joy doesn’t need to get lost in the shuffle, either.

My husband has been revisiting some old computer games that he enjoyed as a child, and I’d always thought that wasn’t something I was interested in – it’s not that I didn’t play computer games as a child. In the eighties, there were computer games. But none of them that I recalled had brought me that much joy that I’d want to do that again in my limited free time. (PacMan on Atari actually triggered my anxiety of being chased as a child.)

Oh, but then I remembered the one. 

It was the only game I chose for myself that my parents bought me. Everything else was something borrowed from the neighbors, or a hand-me-down from my sisters (looking at you, pacman), or something my parents thought I’d like.

It was a text-based game (and that came as a shock, even in the eighties, because I was used to graphics, such as they were), it was at an introductory level, and even with my mother’s help, we couldn’t manage to finish it. Oh, but we tried. And I loved it. I loved it with the love of a thousand suns, despite the fact that I could never slip into the mindset that would work to finish it.

Why did I love it?

Well, it was a detective story that took place in a castle in England. And by the time I was twelve, I’d read every Sherlock Holmes story, and every Agatha Christie detective story. Plus a few Nancy Drews, but they were never as good.

Also, it came with a booklet of ghost stories, for of course it was also a detective story that involved ghosts. And… I’ve mentioned I’m an exorcist, right? Even as a child I was down for some creepy ghost stories and if they were set in England, all the better. That it was set in a castle in Cornwall… Oh, I was there for it. 

And as an adult, I can see where my enjoyment of locked-room games and mystery games comes from, my joy of puzzles and riddles, and even the arc of the story.

And so I googled it. Moonmist, from Infocom. And there it was, on, complete with the accompanying materials I knew so well. (Said book of ghost stories being one of those things. Along with letters – oh, hello, beginning of Sare’s Love Affair with Epistolary Fiction!) I downloaded the materials, printed them out, and even taking copious notes and drawing maps I finished one version of the game in two hours. (The key was being more brazen than my mother and I ever would have been, and more practical than my mother and I would have ever thought a computer game would require us to be.)

It was hella fun, and this week I’ll be sharing it with my husband so the two of us can have ourselves an interactive cozy mystery in a haunted British castle on our day off. I mean, we might also vacuum and clean the bathroom, but let’s not bury the lead: we’re going to be detectives together, solve puzzles and riddles, brazenly search everybody’s bedroom and figure out who’s trying to kill whom. (Also deal with the ghost. But honestly that’s easier than you’d imagine, even in life. Well, most of the time.)

What about you? Is there something from your childhood that you’ve recently rediscovered a love of? Tell me in the comments below!

One comment

  1. Wasting time, defined as doing something that is not in the plan, like baking with pumpkin and sweet potato puree just because I could. Reading books and articles that are not purposeful. Staring into space.

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