Gaming in the computer lab in school

There was a computer lab in the secondary school I attended. The lab was manned by student helpers, and was open to students on certain days from a certain time to a certain time. Sometimes I would stay back after lessons just to use the computers. In those days we need not use computers for our homework or projects, so I used those computers solely for computer games. Strangely, that was permitted at that time. In fact if I remember correctly, everyone, including the student helpers, was playing computer games in the lab. Of course the school did not buy those computers for us to play games. The main purpose of setting up the computer lab was for us to learn basic computer skills, taught by an external instructor. That was why on certain days the lab was not open to all students, as the lab would be occupied by those attending the computer course.

The computers in the lab at that time were without a hard disk drive. Computer programs had to be loaded from those 5.25 inch floppy disks. We had to bring our own floppy disks (including the bootup disk) containing the games. From what I found on the internet, the storage space for a 5.25 inch floppy disk is 360KB, which is approximately 0.36MB or 0.00036GB. I think it is kind of unimaginable for today’s generation that a computer game can be of that tiny size, and yet able to provide hours of fun, not forgetting that the monitors were monochrome, and the graphics were 2D.

Though that seems very backward now, the threat of virus attack was always there. I remember there was once I saw a monitor screen displaying a circle moving around like a ping pong ball. I later learnt it was a virus attack. That taught me to take precautions, eg write-protect the floppy disk.

I think the school did the right thing to set up the computer lab, giving us a chance to get familiar with computers. I wonder if there was a ban on computer games in the computer lab later on.


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