As I write this post, I'm looking around my room and taking stock of what's in it. I've got posters of Mario and Zelda, dozens of games, and countless other tchochkes proclaiming my love of video games. It's unmistakable.
But it isn't only a love of games that define this room. For every video game poster on the wall, it's met by Beatles posters. On my bookshelf, a space once occupied by strategy guides and game magazines hosts a growing vinyl collection, with Beatles records set aside from the others. Guitars that once went unused for months at a time have seen new use, as evidenced by the callouses on my fingers. It's obvious that I'm a pretty big fan of the Beatles. What isn't obvious is how new this passion is.
I've only been listening to the world's biggest band for 2 years.
Of course the above statement isn't 100% factual. It's almost impossible to live on this planet without having heard the Beatles at least once. They were kind of a big deal. A more accurate way of describing my interaction with the band, was that I had never taken more than a very passive interest in their music. In my heady preteen years, I had sought out Beatles music, hoping to see what the big deal was. The result was a spotty collection of the band's catalog, fleshed out mostly by songs from the White Album. I walked away having heard nothing special. I gave my final judgment -- mediocre-- and went along my way.
Flash forward about 5 or 6 years. Rumors had been churning around the internet rumor mill that Harmonix was working on a Beatles-centered game to counter recent single-outfit games by Activision and Neversoft. My initial reaction? Unimpressed. I didn't see any reason to dedicate a game to a single band, let alone one that I had since judged as mediocre.
I changed my mind at the game's official e3 unveiling. I watched as Harmonix showed for the first time, a thorough, incredibly detailed portrait of the band's career. The opening cinematic rolled, and I picked up on references throughout, not realizing what they were, but noting an importance to them. The game's first trailer rolled and I was starstruck. For the first time I got the idea of the story behind the Beatles, and as the trailer revealed location after important location to the band's career, I was hungry to learn more. The band's music, music that had left me unimpressed a few years earlier, sounded fresh, crisp, and alive, more alive than I had ever heard music sound.
"A game's trailer changed my life," is in the running for the world's saddest sentence, but it's the only one that fits this situation. As the press conference wrapped up, I was still starstruck, blown away by music most had taken for granted.
It didn't take long before I was scouring the internet, snapping up every piece of information I could get my hands on. I stayed up long into the night browsing Wikipedia pages, learning about the lives of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. I learned about Sgt. Pepper, and how it revolutionized the way records are made today. I read about the Let it Be sessions, and subsequently the band's darkest hour. I read about "Hey Jude", and "In My Life", and "Long Long Long", songs dripping with passion, and glowing with perfection.
By the time the game's second trailer was released, I knew every lyric to every Beatles song. I could list off album names, stories behind songs, and biographies of John, Paul, Ringo and George. Where once my life had been dominated by a single passion, my love of the Beatles soon grew to meet it.
My year crested when the game was released. I lost myself in the game's music and visuals. The game's dreamscapes, elaborate often psychadelic visuals representing the imagination of the band's studio years, lent new power to the music that had dominated my summer. While the game may have tried the patience of casual Beatles fans, it served only to whet my appetite. I read more books, explored the solo catalogs of group members and more than I can recall now.
It's coming up on two years that I've been listening to the Beatles, and I can't imagine how my life would have gone otherwise. I've made friends, impressed teachers, and won dates through a band nearly half a century old. At my university, I've submitted a pitch to teach a class based solely on the career of the world's biggest band. I've been told there's a good chance that my pitch will be accepted. My life was changed by a video game. I'd be willing to bet that I'm not the only one either.