Despite the fact that it was in fact my parents that bought us our Atari 2600 all those years ago when it seemed that every single family absolutely had to have one of these things, my parents never really shared their kids' love for video games even in the slightest capacity.
We didn't get games just randomly bought for us and if we wanted one, we would have to save up the money ourselves via our paper routes or by doing some chores for allowance. The paper route paid about $50 a month (this was a long time ago) so this meant that in Atari-land and later for the NES, I would be capable of getting 2-3 games per month if I purchased nothing else. Since I was 8 years old or so, of course I was also purchasing other things like candy all the time but I learned a very valuable lesson at a young age about budgeting and also that fact that nothing is free in this world and you have to work for the things you want. I am sure that I was bitching about it at the time but I am now very happy that my parents had the foresight to not spoil their kids but instead give them the tools necessary to get the things they want on their own.
There was not a single instance that my parents bought any of us kids a game just for the hell of it. These games would always come on birthdays or Christmas or we bought them with our own money. There was only one exception that I can remember and it still sticks with me to this day many decades later.
I don't have any idea what compelled my father to pick this game up on the day that he did. It was no one's birthday in my family, I don't recall us being particularly "good" that week (there was always at least one of us that was being a terror on some level) and it was not in his nature to come home with gifts, especially gifts for a video game machine that he would constantly bag on as being a waste of time.
While I am sure he had a go or two at the game later, my father also never had any interest in this, or any other video games that I can remember. Well, that is not true, there was ONE game my dad loved but this wouldn't be revealed until many years later and that will have to be saved for another day because it was an amazing family breakthrough for me and him.
Excitebike is considered by many to be one of the best NES games that was ever made. The concept was simple, the game controls were tight, it was difficult enough to be challenging but not so difficult that is was frustrating - and it was relatively long.
The fact that you could design your own track with the "track builder" was pretty amazing as well and we would end up making some pretty wild designs, some of which would barely be possible. Unfortunately you were not able to save any of the tracks so the amount of time and effort that we would put into this part of the game was probably additionally perplexing to my parents who probably just wanted us to go outside and play more anyway.
I had a pretty great upbringing and we are still a pretty strong family unit to this day. Fortunately, everyone is still alive and in good health also. Over the years I have owned hundreds of games and almost every major console that was ever made (I even bought the Atari Jaguar and considered getting the Lynx) but because of this surprise gift on a day that no one was expecting a gift is something that sticks in my mind forever despite the fact that way more eventful things have happened before and after that day.
I have sent a message to my Dad asking what compelled him to do that, and I would be very surprised if her remember the incident at all (he hasn't answered yet.) I've played a lot better games than Excitebike but the way in which I came to acquire it is what makes this gaming memory so special and important to me.