I'm 34 so I missed out on the "golden age" of gaming around the late 70s and early 80s. I was also too young to afford to buy my own gaming stuff with the exception of pocket money savings for budget games; happily, my folks were as much into gaming as me and would buy magazines with covermounted C64 cassettes and the like. The magazines alone provided us with a lot of cheap games so we rarely had to fret about extreme budgeting. Those pocket money purchases were for specific things I was interested in that were cheap enough - you could get something like Smash TV on cassette for £3.99 in Boots, for example. However, it was a family machine and the folks would buy full price games and things too. (Happily, my mum and dad still play games today; everything from little distractions on iPhone to regular Steam discoveries. ) All of this context is necessary because my schoolfriends weren't really familiar with the C64, but they'd still listen to me talk about that stuff with curiosity.
During primary school it was all about Sega and Nintendo - the NES and the Mega Drive. My best friend at the time was very much into NES stuff; eventually we would get a NES of our own, and so me and him would exchange carts on the playground and borrow them for a little while. It was a great way of amassing a bunch of games without draining all of your own earnings, as you just ended up with this communal pool of NES carts that got swapped around. I'd love that kind of feeling to come back today, and we do sort of have things like SharePlay and that Steam sharing stuff. (An aside: during the C64 era I don't think we were ever into the home taping and piracy scene, because I don't think we really looked into it all that much, and we barely knew anyone who still had C64 stuff when we were getting into it. That said, we did sometimes make cool "compilations" of games on C90 cassettes for our own use!)
Also, my best friend at the time in primary school had a stack of NES games whereas we only had about three carts (because we had only just got our machine)... however, we had Super Mario Bros. 3 - one of the big new releases at the time - and he didn't. This meant that he'd often let us borrow stuff from his collection so that he could get more time in with SMB3. His collection had lots of weird stuff: Faxanadu, Solar Jetman, Nintendo World Cup, Super Spike V-Ball... I think he had the original Mega Man as well. I'm not 100% certain but I think my primary school crush/gf at the time had her own NES stuff as well, so all of my closest peeps were very much Nintendo fans. Back home we did eventually get a Mega Drive, but by this time other friends' interests had changed a little and so there was less swapping around (also, 16-bit carts were more expensive...)
The magazines changed, of course - we dabbled with C&VG, Sega Power, Mean Machines and I think Gamesmaster later on? Naturally, there weren't any covermounts, but I remember one of my school libraries occasionally had one or two battered copies of C&VG in the corner - I'd skim through them and scribble down notable cheat codes before I had to go to a class. I even remember specifically finding out about the debug mode in Sonic The Hedgehog from one of those magazines, although when I tried it I got confused over whether it was supposed to be "u,c,d,c,l,c,r,c" or "u&c, d&c, l&c, r&c"... Oh, and there was Sonic The Comic of course: I don't think I ever bought it myself (when it came to comics I was more of a Dandy fan) but other people in school would sometimes browse their own issues or show them to me.
Beyond that it was eventually PS1 stuff (we skipped the dodgy era of early CD gaming entirely!) and - ultimately - buying the consoles and games we wanted rather than there being "family-owned" systems. There was no more game-swapping and we didn't look into piracy, but we didn't need to at that point. So yeah, we were (fortunately) too late to adopt a C64 for home taping to be necessary - because games were so cheap at that point - but the NES cart economy on the playground was fun for a while.