Jurassic March

The little blue tree hanging from my mirror in my car emits a smell that evokes several different reactions in me, firstly I like the smell, it’s called “new car” it fills the car with a pleasant aroma every time I open the door.  Most importantly of all though, it reminds me of the smell inside my Ford Escort XR3i that I once owned some 15 years ago, it reminds me of how I used to keep the car immaculate, how I used to service it evey six months myself and all the fantastic drives I used to have in it.  All those wonderful memories from one, wee, blue, smelly tree hanging in my car – absolutely amazing how the mind works and stores nuggets like that away.

Magic Tree + XR3i = Good times
Magic Tree + XR3i = Good times

A song came on the radio a while ago it was called “I won’t let you down” by a band called “PHD” who were fronted by the diminutive Scotsman, Jim Diamond.  The moment I heard it I was transported back to 1982.  I remembered being ten years old, going for bike rides with my friends, drinking Ribena out of a carton with the wee straw for the very first time, watching Scotland play in the World Cup (Spain I think), I remember watching the Pope visit Glasgow on the telly and I also remembered another song called “The story of the blues”.  Amazing what can be locked away in your mind only to be triggered by something as simple as a song.

It tasted nicer in 1982
It tasted nicer in 1982

Just the other day I caught the whiff of one of my daughter’s hair products, shampoo I think it was, and it reminded me of the pink hair gel that I used to use when I was both 18 and had hair to put it on!  It cast my mind back to the last year in secondary school, I remembered skateboarding, going to concerts, drinking alcohol and getting pissed, I remembered friends past and all the good times we shared, I remembered one of my friend’s girlfriends reaching up and wiping a huge pink globule of gel off the side of my hair that I hadn’t rubbed in. Quite simply amazing, the way your inner self hides things away that you thought were long forgotten.  Then I had to raise a question to myself, why do games not evoke the same reaction in me?

Not the actual gel, but pink!
Not the actual gel, but pink!

I’ve been playing games for so long and in so many different circumstances that surely they must be part of my inner psyche, but I’m never struck down with that nostalgic feeling in connection to any games.  Well, I have written before about how it feels right to play games at certain times of the year but this would be a different feeling altogether, this is something more intrinsically linked to a deeper part of you that associates feelings and emotions with well defined markers, i.e. smells and sounds.  Maybe it is the case that in playing a game it lasts for a far greater time than any smell or song could so the process that would store a memory is too drawn out to associate it with any one thing.  Surely though, owing to the sheer volume of games that I have played, there must be something hidden away deep inside, that would trigger the reaction I was looking for?  Turns out I was maybe looking too hard!

Great game, play it!
Great game, play it!

Last week was a particularly nice week weather wise, it started cold and as the days progressed it got warmer until it was, by my reckoning, quite pleasant.  Doing the same job that I have been doing for 14 years I went about my business of washing cars in the mild March day, suddenly and from nowhere I was filled with an urge. It might sound a bit odd to you, but I had an overwhelming urge at that very point in time to play Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis!  For anyone not in the know, the game was out several years ago for a few of the last gen consoles, I had it for the Xbox, and it was a park builder type game.  You had to dig for fossils and then extract dino DNA and fill your park with dinosaurs while managing food outlets, merchandise stalls and staff levels. It all played out like the Sim (insert word here) games and I genuinely loved it, I had a park filled with all the dinosaurs you could get in the game, had cured all ailments and had a good turnover; it was one of, if not the best, Jurassic Park games.  Still, that doesn’t explain why I wanted to play it again all of a sudden, then I went home and did a bit of research.  Operation Genesis was released in the year 2003… during the month of March!  This was not some knowledge that I had tucked away, I didn’t remember when I bought it although I know I got it when it was released, I didn’t write it down or anything so the only explanation I have is that the day made me remember.  I think it must have been the pleasant weather and this might sound stupid but I also think your mind remembers the position of the sun in the sky at points during the year which enables us to reference different things based solely on that.  The conditions must have been the same way back in 2003 when I first played the game and my mind remembered that, I’m astounded that all this can be stored away to jump out and fill you with nostalgia without a second’s notice.  I’m now eagerly anticipating what my next piece of gaming nostalgia might be, wait! I just caught a whiff of a scented candle, now that takes me back to…







One response to “Jurassic March”

  1. Simon avatar

    It is amazing all the stuff our brains remember and squirrel away subconsciously. I get these little flashes of memory from my childhood from certain smells sometimes too.

    Also, whenever someone on a motorbike hits me with a baseball bat I’m reminded of GTA IV.

    Operation Genesis I played a little bit but never actually owned myself. I do have a very soft spot for Jurassic Park games though. Trespasser in particular.

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