Do you remember the first time? We've been quizzing key industry figures about their earliest gaming memories, and the key titles that sparked their love for the medium. Read on to hear where it all began for Cliff Bleszinski, Peter Molyneux, Kaz Hirai, and many more.

Kaz Hirai, president and group CEO of Sony

Kaz hirai

What's the first game I ever played? That would be... um, what's the title? It's the one where you have a bunch of blocks. No, it's not Tetris. You have one paddle here, and you basically try to... [Breakout?] Breakout, yes! That was probably the first game that I ever played, but the first game I spent huge amounts of money investing in, that would be Space Invaders.


Peter Molyneux, creative director at Lionhead and Microsoft Game Studios Europe

Molyneux new

The first proper game was probably Wizardry on the old Apple II. I totally became obsessed with that game, to the point where I lost my girlfriend by playing it - I left her down the pub three times! Because it was on floppy disk... Once, my floppy disk was written off and that night I immediately got in the car and I drove 150 miles to find another Wizardry player so I could get a copy of the disc. It was the first game really that I ever played with levelling-up. It was set in a dungeon, and there was a mad god, and it had spells. It was wireframe, but in my imagination I was down there in that dungeon.

You've got to remember... This is where asking this question to someone like me maybe slightly different to asking other people, because before this there weren't many mechanics in computer games. We were playing Space Invaders and stuff like that, and suddenly this thing comes along where you're not shoving quarters or 10p pieces in. You're there for 100 hours, levelling up and playing from level 1 to level 99. It's just a fantastic feeling. It's the reason Fable's been done. It's such a pure execution of a role-playing game: There's no chaff in the way, this was pure levelling up. I think Wizardry was one of the first games [to have that], and that was then adopted by so many Japanese role-playing games, the Final Fantasy series. So really it gave birth to everything that we've done in the genre.


Motomu Toriyama, director of Final Fantasy XIII-2 (Square Enix)


You probably haven't heard of this game, but you might have heard of Yuji Kori - who is famous for the Dragon Quest series. He created a game called... [struggles for an appropriate translation] Serial Murder Case? It was an old Japanese adventure game set in a poor town in Japan, a very Japanese game. These type of games were very popular before the RPG came into light. That was the first game I played.


Yoshinori Kitase, producer of Final Fantasy XIII-2 (Square Enix)


Including arcade games? I can't remember the first game exactly, as such, but the first game that got me really hooked must have been Invaders.


Cliff Bleszinski, designer of Gears of War 3 (Epic Games)

Cliffy b

It was Space Invaders on the Atari 2600. I was about six years old, and we all proceeded to start to doing jumping jacks like one of the Space Invaders did. And if you think about it, Space Invaders was in fact the original cover shooter. I was obsessed with the fact that you could move images on the television. That was when I knew that I wanted to make games.


Dan Ayoub, executive producer of Halo Anniversary (343 Industries)


I was a big board gamer growing up, but if I think back to my biggest video gaming memory, I'd say it was easily Tron: Deadly Discs on the Intellivision. I mean, my first video game was Pong, that was my first video game. I remember my Dad bringing it home and I got all excited about it. But if I think back to as a child, my favourite video gaming memory was definitely Tron. I loved that game, and I was a huge fan of the Intellivision. How old was I? You're killing me, man! You're going to age me! I was probably about 10 or 11 years old. Pong was literally the first, to make me feel really old, but that was probably my most fun childhood gaming memory - playing that and games like Triple Action on the Intellivision. Those were my favourites.


Yosuke Hayashi, project leader on Ninja Gaiden 3 (Team Ninja)


I played the NES version of Popeye. I was playing Popeye at a relative's house, and it was so fun and I got so into it that I wouldn't go home. My parents said, 'We'll buy you a NES, let's just go!' And that's when I went home. They bought me a NES and Super Mario Brothers, which was like 100 times better than Popeye!


Michel Ancel, creative director at Ubisoft


I think it was a Game and Watch? I don't know if we can call that a video game. But yes, I played Pong when it was released, you know the system where you plug into your TV box, and you're turning things. What did I play too? I think it was in an arcade - I played arcade first. Like Space Invaders, Pacman and Galaga. Galaga was one of my favourite games, and I still play that in the office today, because we have an arcade. It's a crazy game! And that's funny, because I play it better than when I was a kid, so I'm quite happy! I'm better at video games than before.


Takashi Iizuka, producer of Sonic Generations (SEGA)


It was an adventure game on PC. It was a Japanese-only release, so even if I told you, you probably wouldn't remember it! One of the first games I played was a detective game. I was at a friend's house, and to make selections in the game, and to get responses to my input, that blew me away. That was an amazing thing, like 'Wow! This is a game?'. That was thing that was very impactful to me.


Devin Shatsky, producer of Silent Hill: Downpour (Konami)


It was Pong for me. I must have been about five years old. I remember sitting in my parents' living room, just being completely stoked for hours playing Pong against my Dad. I had never seen an interactive game on a TV at all, at that point. It was just amazing, to be able to turn the paddle in my hand and see it move on the TV screen.


Tomm Hulett, senior associate producer (Konami)


My first time playing a game was Space Invaders on the 2600. I think that it was maybe a rainy day or something and I was being annoying, so my Mum put me in front of the old Atari. I loved it because it felt like I was in a space adventure movie, and I was the guy controlling it. It definitely made me interested in games as this new activity I could do. But the game that made me want to make games was MegaMan 2 for the Nintendo. I don't know why, it was just really good! So I wanted to do that too.


Jonathan Pelling, creative director of XCOM (2K Marin)


I guess I don't go back as far as some people, so this might seem a little funny, but I guess my first ... I started out with the PC. I came to consoles fairly late. My first console was a Dreamcast, and I think it was quite late in the cycle of that console. I was very much a PC gamer, and that's where I found my favourite games of all time like X-COM and Star Control and that kind of thing. I can remember my first 386, playing the demo of Doom, and when that crappy Hangman game - that was so amazing for someone who hadn't really had any experience with games - became free as a shareware thing on the horrible PC.


Tommy Jacob, creative director at Redstorm


Asteroids. You probably don't know that game do you? Oh, do you? I was probably five or six years old, and I lived in New Jersey, and my parents were in a place called Malibu which had a go-kart track, mini-golf and an arcade. I walked in the room, there were all these other arcade games, but this one stood out to me. It was the original black and white Asteroids, the first game I ever played.


Interviews by Neon Kelly, Martin Gaston, Emily Gera and Jamin Smith. Thanks to Nick Cowen.