Computer gamer's nirvana

GAME ON: Mark Barlow is a self-confessed computer game tragic.
GAME ON: Mark Barlow is a self-confessed computer game tragic.

Mario Brothers, Pacman, Pong, Space Invaders.

The mere mention of these titles would get any gamer's nostalgia running hot.

But Mark Barlow takes things a step further.

The 45-year-old is keeping those memories alive and kicking in his St Johns home.

Walking into Mr Barlow's gaming lair the heart starts racing and memories come flooding back.

"It's those flashback moments I see in people that get me buzzing," he says.

"When we have exhibits I get the older generation coming up and saying,

‘I used to be the champion at that game'."

"So you get the young gamers versus the old players and it's great to see."

Mr Barlow has been in love with computers and video games before he was a 10-year-old heading off to computer camp.

He mowed lawns for two years to save up for his first computer, the Sinclair ZX80.

The self-confessed "super geek" started programming at the age of 12 and two years later was offered £1000 by a British company for his first commercial programme.

It was used in the game Jetpack in 1983 which was re-released on the Xbox 360 as Jetpack Refuelled in 2007.

"I've learned over 30 different languages - in computers I mean," Mr Barlow says.

"I don't do much development anymore and focus more on my entrepreneurial projects."

Today Mr Barlow owns more than 1000 video games and items of computer gear that he's been collecting all his life, from the Commodore 64 to the Xbox One.

His dream of starting up New Zealand's first vintage computer game museum, Techvana, is also gaining traction.

Mr Barlow envisions the old as well as new technologies on display, particularly those designed by New Zealand companies.

It already has the support of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

"I do host retro-gaming nights from time to time and they're always fun," Mr Barlow says.

"The newer technology does excite me more but a vital part of learning about computers is understanding where they've come from."

Visit for more information on the computer museum.

North Shore Times