I have a cute little story for you. It's about high school and video games.
It was the last few months of my senior year -- it was actually my second senior year, if you wanna nitpick. I um. Kept putting off Phys-Ed class because I hated it so much, and wound up having to make up some credits -- I was eighteen, and my classes were all really easy. I think I had two free periods, and I was able to leave campus when I felt like it. Cruisin', basically.
It was around this time that I demanded my friend Tim let me borrow his Game Boy SP. I needed something to occupy my time. He obliged, because he'd just gotten a Nintendo DS, and loaned me all his Game Boy Advance games, including The Legend Of Zelda: The Minish Cap, which I proceeded to play nonstop until -- and during -- graduation.
If you look closely, you will notice Sloth from The Goonies and a subterranean burglar-duck.
I friggin' loved this game. One of my all-time favorite games is A Link To The Past. I wouldn't say I'm a die-hard Zelda geek, but it's something I liked as a kid, and it's something I like even better now because I can actually figure out the puzzles on my own without crying.
I know you guys're gonna hate me for this, but I still haven't played through either of the N64 Zelda games. I've played a little bit, but I couldn't get into 'em. I like my Zelda games adorable, colorful, and pleasant. I picked up Ocarina Of Time, and it was like, "Here, take this bag of nuts, and go into a nest of giant spiders. Also, this extremely irritating fairy will follow you and shout vague suggestions." I have enough problems in my life without dealing with weird crap like that. I just want some escapism.
I know it's like, the best game ever for the N64, but please. Don't even try to convince me otherwise. One of the most serious arguments I've had with my girlfriend was when she said I wasn't a real man because I haven't beaten The Water Temple, and I told her she should shut the hell up and respect her elders, even though I'm only two years older than her. It's funny. Most couples who have relationship problems due to a "generation gap," aren't talking about game consoles.
Anyway, Minish Cap had the feel of Link To The Past, and I was stoked. I played it in class, I played it during lunch. After school, I'd go to my job at a record store, and I'd have to put the Game Boy away. As soon as my manager went home, though, I'd break it out again and play. Then I'd go home, and I'd keep playing. It was awesome.
Eventually, prom night came around. I thought it was stupid, and decided it would be more awesome if I spent the money for prom on a tattoo of a cowboy with a sword riding a slug-dinosaur. I told everyone this, and they said "Oh, Max." I got home and told my mom, and she also said "Oh, Max," except in a much more disappointed tone. She said she'd pay for my prom ticket if it meant I wouldn't get the tattoo.
For the record, I got the tattoo a few months later anyway.
I didn't have a date to prom. There were girls who would've gone with me if I'd asked, but then they probably would have wanted a corsage, or like. Dancing, or something. So, I went stag. And when I say "stag" I mean, "I went with my friends Tisha and Kristina and Kristina's mom drove us."
At prom, I was the only person wearing shorts, tube socks and Chucks. Of course, I was also the only person wearing a totally boss white dinner jacket.
In retrospect, I probably looked like a clown.
Our prom was held at a race track for some reason. The kind for horses and dogs. There were little tiny TVs at each table, and we turned on ours to find out that Robocop II was on. I was pretty stoked about this, because Robocop is basically my favorite celebrity.
You know what I spent most of the night doing, though?
Playing Game Boy. Looking back, I'm quite proud of this. Of all the prom night memories I could have, mine are of watching Robocop II and playing Zelda. The weird part? I had a few girls ask me to dance, but I was just like, "No, go away. I'm trying to beat this goddamn cloud dungeon."
(...If it's not abundantly obvious, I did not get laid on prom night...)
A few weeks later, it was time for graduation. I had to put on my stupid robe and hat, and sit in the hot sun for like three hours.
Something needs to be said here: Graduations suck. Nobody enjoys them. Yes, you get to finish school, and it's a momentous occasion, but they aren't remotely enjoyable. The people graduating just want their piece of paper, and the people attending don't want to sit around watching other peoples' kids graduate. At the end of the day, it's an idiotic ceremony that everyone feels obligated to attend, even though everyone hates it.
Weddings are beautiful, funerals are poignant, but graduations are just ridiculous. "You've finished a certain amount of schooling! This means you're smarter! Here, put on this polyester cloak and this preposterous hat, and go sit in that folding chair. We will tell you when to throw your hat into the air."
So I sat on my folding chair. It was in the second row of seats, and this meant I got my diploma rather quickly. But then I had to sit there while two hundred other kids got called up. Luckily, I brought the Game Boy. I sat there, mostly ignoring the speeches being given, and then a word was said that caught my attention: "video games."
The alumnus who spoke at my high school graduation was Tim Schafer, the man responsible for games like The Secret of Monkey Island and Full Throttle. I don't think I knew him by name at that point, but I was certainly familiar with his work. Pointing and clicking are two of my favorite things to do on a computer, and when those actions are put into a game? Even better.
LOOK AT IT.
I watched him give his speech. Then, I realizing I could listen without looking at him, I went back to playing Game Boy, but continued listening. I don't remember exactly what he said, but it was funny. It wasn't your typical "you can accomplish anything speech," it was more "I'm really surprised they asked me to do this."
That was a little over five years ago. I was sitting at my high school graduation with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with myself, playing Zelda, and listening to Tim Schafer talk about his teenage years.