Every year around the holidays I am more thankful for what I have been given. Even before Christmas and the traditional opening of presents I love the atmosphere of winter in Seattle and the promise of a traditional gathering of family. I donít see them nearly as much as I used to, so I feel that this one mandatory Christmas get together is healthy for me as a human being. If it wasnít Christmas, maybe it would be something else like Easter or National Cuddle Day.
I can remember every holiday consecutively because of Christmas. So, I wanted to tell all of you a story about me. Itís about how our video game hobby has made me the happiest person alive. Video games are a reliable crutch Iíve always had, to lift my spirits when they are broken. Sometimes a good video game session will leave me smiling for days. The technology is changing and doing so many amazing things that it seems anything is possible.
Even when times were rough, I relax and remember that certain games would bring more happy memories. If I was missing someone during the holiday season I could pull out a video game and remember them. I played Tetris to remember my dad when I havenít seen him in a while. It was the same with other games. Tetris Attack reminded me of my little brother and the friends he used to invite over to play two player competitions. Diablo II reminded me of LAN parties I used to have with my high school friends. Silent Hill 11 reminded me of my wife Kahla and how we used to play scary games. She could barely watch those games, but I could only get through them if she was there beside me.
The year 2002 is a good example of this. One of my brothers had past away that year and my whole family was having a hard time keeping it together. I didnít really have the same chance to grieve like everyone else did, because I had this idea that I was supposed to go and learn game design and programming to pursue my own career. Something about losing a sibling made me even more motivated to just go and pursue something that would enrich my life. Maybe I felt like there wasnít a lot of time left to do it. But being away from the gatherings and groups of people grieving was something I felt strange about, hearing of it from 3000 miles away.
During the holidays of 2002 I played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night to remember the brother I had lost earlier that year. My brother and I played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night back when it came out and never stopped until it was beaten. We took shifts overnight finding out all the little secrets in the game. Even after we beat the game we made it last by finding rare items. The Crissaegrim totally broke the game, and we loved it. Working with him as a team that night was such a fond memory.
While away in Florida, I made some new friends in college that I know to this day. We used to play games like Amplitude and Frequency to pass the time. So today, that is yet another game I play when I want to think of my old college buddies. Those games hurt my fingers more than any other game I had ever played, except for Ninja Gaiden. They were the first rhythm games that I played. I was playing those before Guitar Hero. I would pick one song and try to master it. My friends werenít used to so much song repetition. They loved to hate me for playing David Bowieís ĎEveryone Says Hií Ė into the night.
A few years later I was done with college, so my situation was completely different. My family was slowly getting over one of my brothers not being around, and I guess I was too. But I wasnít missing family as much as I missed my college friends. All of us left the college and were in our separate parts of the United States. I looked to purchase Amplitude and Frequency again, but could never find them in stores. Guitar Hero was very similar. I guess I never needed to buy the game because everyone else had it.
Before too long my college friends moved up to Washington State to find jobs in the industry. We all had jobs programming but only some of us were making games. There were some apartments that were pretty close to our places of work. We became roommates and since we were so inclined to keep the rhythm gaming going, Guitar Hero completely replaced Amplitude and Frequency. And of course, time goes by and we got girlfriends, different jobs, more money, and though we keep in touch we went our separate ways.
I met my significant other in 2008. Her name was Kahla. She and I met over the internet. I found out she played video games a lot. I looked up to the sky, dropped to my knees, and thanked whoever was out there that I finally met a nice girl who would also play video games with me. At first we started out with Fable 2 and played cooperatively. I didnít even need to beat the game. I just liked to help out. She and I ended up playing Dragon Age religiously because we would fight over what to say to Alistar or Morrigan to win their hearts. That bitch Morrigan always left me. She didnít fare much better with Alistar. Yes, I think if I was lonely and I missed her, I could always play through Dragon Age again.
My youngest brother and I still played video games every once in a while. We would pretty much ditch our girlfriends and play games until we couldnít play anymore. Our food and energy drinks kept us going for the most part. It took us more than one session with Bionic Commando: Rearmed to beat it. We were getting older, but we still enjoyed classic games we played as kids. Rearmed was so well made that we could have very well been playing the original. We had a lot of fun with it.
Later, I got involved with a website called Destructoid. I started up because of Jim and Anthony. (I remember Anthony when playing VVVVVV. I remember Jim when I play Silent Hill 2.) I started playing Halo: Reach in something they called Friday Night Fights. I was poor at the time, so I struggled to buy more games to keep up with them when they switched to another game. Halo: Reach, despite playing other games Friday night, was the game I played the most and the one that still sticks out in my mind. Through blogging on Destructoid and playing video games with the community, I made many long time friends.
Soon after Kahla and I got married we were fairly well off, and bought two computers in hopes of playing Diablo III later that year. The computers were used for other things like game development, and digital painting, but we would have to wait another few years to play Diablo III. We finally played it in 2015. There were many games before this one that moved me, but Diablo III was a cornerstone in my life as a gamer. When it came out I had already released a game of my own, and started a company off of it. The success of Diablo III only heightened the sales of my own game. So many features of my game were inspired by it.
I do play my own games now for nostalgia. Our company had only a mild financial success. We are still making games today, but our real success is that we are making games that we really love to play. It might be weird, but I play my own games to make me happy. I guess I really was making these games because I liked the idea of their existence. These days when I play one of them, I think of the people inside the company that made the projects possible.
We had written such complex code that we donated some of our AI programs to government technology programs. Shortly after, in 2018, we were contracted by the government to make more games that dealt with non-player characters with full neural networks. We dealt with a division of Atari to create a game based on this technology. Again, it was built for a niche market, but people bought it up. I canít say I had much time for video games at this time in my life, but we used ďThe MatrixĒ as our intellectual property and developed a new online world that had very intelligent Ďagentsí. It was an amazing opportunity. I always loved the Matrix movies.
I still play games to remember people in my life, even in 2021. I made the new Matrix: Online game and developed other titles to reflect that idea of experiencing something awe inspiring with someone else. That was my way of spreading that happiness to other people. Maybe those people were like me, and they would remember the good experiences they had. I would love that to be a continuing cycle.
Because of our contributions to software technology, they were able to figure out a way to extract memories wirelessly from people that wanted to bring one of their loved ones back to life. By continuing to play video games, my memory became one of the most clear and informative data resources. That data with the rest of my familyís memories went towards restructuring my brotherís personality. I paid for a process that extracted his DNA and made a new body for him. They sped up the aging process. Even though it was hard to come to a decision on what age he should be, we left him at age 19 Ė the age he was when he died.
Iíve talked with him for a while, and it really is like he never left. Heís a bit confused, but heíll get over that. Heís the same old brother I used to know. After he got into the swing of things I showed him some new video games. He watched in wonderment at the visuals. Video games had photo realistic quality, and he was used to seeing pixels and polygons back when he was playing in 2001. He was glad to hear that video games were also widely known as an art form, and people rarely questioned it anymore. We are both looking forward to seeing Diablo IV in the year 2030.
Heíll be around for the Christmas holidays this year in 2023. My parents arenít current on technology, so they are going to be freaking out a little. I guess they never understood how video games could create so much happiness for everyone in the world. They will never understand that video games were responsible for bringing their son back to life. Having our long lost sibling back for the holidays, was something they always wished for. Of course, they would say I took them too literally. But, hey, Iím a programmer. Cut me some slack.