THE PCG Q&A
It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t videogame-related, though the odds of it being a walkthrough or cheat code are probably pretty high. Were you searching for song lyrics, music videos, or RuneScape? Free games, god mode, or Pokémon? Or was it something far too embarrassing to own up to?
Do you remember the first thing you searched the web for?
Here are our answers, plus a few from our forum.
James Davenport: What else but https://www.goosebumps.com?
The way I am an annoying prick about Dark Souls today, I was an annoying prick about Goosebumps as a 10-year-old. I was obsessed with those books, so the day our local library got dial-up internet, I ran down the street and into the dingy backroom computer lab, and logged the hell on. I remember an oozing, poorly animated logo, some kinda spooky midi tune playing in the background, maybe, and a monster buttressed with links of old. “More info”, “About the author” and so on. It was probably way less extravagant in reality, but at the time, it was mind-blowing, and all I really did was just look at the page. Here’s the thing I like, on a computer, sort of.
Graeme Meredith: It was probably something like Nintendo or Sega’s official websites, as the idea of not having to wait until monthly magazines arrived with News and Reveals was a mind-blowing revelation. Looking at these sites now, they’re delightfully quaint, and memories come flooding back of filling out surveys and writing on forums, believing Nintendo actually gave two shits about my 13-year-old brain’s opinion.
But I definitely miss that more peaceful time online… who doesn’t? Web Zones that welcome you with playful designs and graphics popping out at you like an over-prepared Powerpoint. Nostalgia reigns supreme in my heart but the internet was just better back then; when companies didn’t really know how to use it and you’d be lucky to sustain a connection for more than 25 minutes at a time, giving you a golden opportunity to actually go and do something else for a while.
Wes Fenlon: My first memory of the internet is watching my dad get online on our second family computer—I’m pretty sure it was a 386. I remember Netscape Navigator, and that he disabled images in the browser so that pages would load at a reasonable speed. Yahoo!, Lycos, AltaVista—he could’ve been using any one of them to search. But what was the first thing I searched for? Impossible to remember, but early on I did love the experience of discovering websites not through actual searches, but through Yahoo! directories. You could dig into a topic, and sub-topics, and find all sorts of cool websites just listed there a click away. I’m pretty sure that’s how I discovered Happy Puppy, where I’d go to read about games. And more importantly, download shareware. I wish we could go back to a browsing method that wasn’t so driven by today’s search algorithms, honestly.
Tyler Wilde: I have no idea, but it probably had to do with WarCraft 2, The X-Files (I had a fan site at one point), or aliens and UFOs in general. I was really into paranormal stuff. I remember once I printed out like a 200 page document about grays, and I think my dad probably got mad I used all that paper and ink. (There’s also a decent chance I typed in “sex” or “boob.”)
Chris Livingston: So… am I the only one who immediately searched for nudity? Huh. OK then.
I don’t remember the year, but I’m guessing it was somewhere in the mid-to-late 1990s. I think I’d heard of something called “Gopher” that would let you search for stuff, though I may be misremembering. Anyway, I typed in “tits” and told Gopher to go find me some. It eventually returned with a picture of Beatles singer John Lennon with his shirt off.
It was the first in a long, long series of ways the internet has disappointed me.
Steven Messner: I don’t remember exactly, but I’m like 90% positive it had something to do with Yoshi. When I was in elementary school I was in a very exclusive club called the Yoshi Gang and we were very passionate about Yoshi lore. We were each assigned a color and I was White Yoshi.
I vaguely recall the first time we got the internet and my dad showing me how to use it, and I’m pretty sure I searched something about Yoshis.
We also used to have a notebook where you would write down websites you found because back then we had no idea how to (or even if you could) bookmark sites. Also websites were rare, so you didn’t want to lose a good one.
Jody Macgregor: I have a clear memory of someone showing me how to use Yahoo in 1997 and asking if I had a favorite TV show or book to look up. I said The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and of course there were a bunch of pages about it. The Hitchhiker’s Guide is like the internet in a way, a searchable database of information that may be dangerously out of date by the time you read it.
Sarafan: Not so sure to be honest, but two things come to my mind. First thing was a patch for Starcraft 1 which added new features to the map editor. Without them there was no option to force units to use a certain special ability. I tackled with the editor back then making new maps and I missed this feature a lot, because it was a core thing when it comes to creating custom cut-scenes.
Second thing was probably CD Projekt’s website. Not everyone knows, but in the early 2000s CD Projekt was a local distribution company which introduced and localized many games on the Polish market. Their website was a good source of news on the newly released games in my country. Besides that you could find tons of additional files there that were related to the games they distributed. These were the reasons why I searched for this website during one of my first contacts with the Internet.
Brian Boru: 90s was my decade of enthusiasm for software, so in ’97 it would likely have been something about a shareware program, or else Command & Conquer or Red Alert.
DXCHASE: Napster, Limewire, AIM, WMP skins… generally sites that i could download music/movies/games for free from.
Pifanjfr: I’m not sure what the first thing was, but one of the first websites I can remember memorizing the URL of was just for looking up cheats.
I don’t think I finished a game without cheats until I was in my early teens and it took several more years before I quit using cheats almost entirely.
mainer: Seriously, I have no clue what the first thing I searched for was. I do remember I was on “dial-up” at the time the Web came into existence. AOL, America Online! There’s a high probability that one of the first things I looked for was patches released for various games. No auto -patching back then (at least not that I remember).
Zloth: Jeez, who knows? I was probably using Archie or Veronica to hunt down some Apogee shareware. I think there was some app for searching multiple BBS boards for files, but that wasn’t even the internet.