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Ryan Slattery's blog

2:03 AM on 02.10.2010

Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64 then the PlayStation: How I Came to Love Video Games

To be honest, it wasn't the Sega Genesis my family received for Christmas from an aunt, although it was greatly appreciated. I gotta say, it wasn't really the Nintendo 64 that my parents got for my brother and I when we moved to San Antonio in the summer of '98, which was positively, at the time, just the worst thing ever. The weather sucked. The neighborhood sucked. The school sucked.

Time passed. We made new friends. We did well in school. We certainly played video games. The weather really never got any better though. That's Texas for you. Speaking of video games, it was the Nintendo 64 we played the heck out of before my so-called "awakening". GoldenEye 007, Super Smash Brothers, Super Mario 64, Mario Kart, Bomberman 64, Harvest Moon 64, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: I'm fairly sure I'm forgetting some as the relics of childhood are easily misplaced these days. The attractiveness of these games in my early years were that they were fun to play with others. That was a period of time where my brother and I actually got along for the most part even though we beat the heck out of each other whenever we accused the other of cheating because there was no way in hell they lost. Video games were alright. I liked them, yeah, but they were never that huge of a hobby like reading at the time.

Then came a certain friend with a certain console: the very much beloved PlayStation of the first generation. Gray. Small. What surprised us was that console games also came on CDs although we had played some on the computer before, such as the well known Oregon Trail. One of the first games he played at our house, as he lugged over the PlayStation in a black bag, was Final Fantasy VII. After that, I was lost forever.

We never actually owned a PlayStation ourselves but when the PS2 was coming out, my brother and I, possibly for the last time, overcame our differences and agreed to pool our allowance money together and get one. One of the very first games I bought for the sleek, black console, was not, in fact, a PS2 game but Breath of Fire IV for the PS1. I played that for a long while but had to leave the PS2 on as I realized that you could not, in fact, save PS1 games on a PS2 memory card. I quickly learned after that, of course.

After that followed Paper Mario and Majora's Mask for the Nintendo 64. Various Final Fantasy games such as Final Fantasy VIII and IX and even Tactics sped through my PS2 at one point. Kingdom Hearts was a tentative buy but eagerly enjoyed by not just myself but two siblings as well: my little sister who came into the world shortly after the move. My Gameboy allowed me to enjoy gems such as Pokemon (my favorite was Crystal), Dragon Warrior I & II and even Dragon Warrior Monsters as the school library granted me Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Later, came the Gameboy Advance which carried Golden Sun and Megaman Battle Network in its wake. Stephen King kept me wide awake at night several times in the midst of gaming under the desk lamp. The Gameboy Advance, and later Nintendo DS, gave me the ability to enjoy classics such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI, which became some of my absolute favorites of all time. Neil Gaiman became first in my heart when the topic was temporarily diverted to books. It was literally a torrent, a flood of games over the years with many forays and diversions into literature. I'm fairly sure as I recall some titles of games that I enjoyed, I'm forgetting more. Being nineteen isn't easy, it seems.

RPGs were so ultimately attractive, they managed to capture my heart like no one's business. The characters, the setting, the places and names, the mythological aspects, the social structure of the environment, the lore of the game, and so on. They're riveting if done right, downright appalling if they manage to fudge it up. They drew me in just like the books of my childhood and left me reeling: from Aeris' death in Final Fantasy 7 to the flinging of the One Ring into the flames of Mount Doom. The point was that if I cared, that I braved the wrath of my parents or the mocking of my teachers, the developers of games and the authors of books succeeded.

As of recent, the tide has receded for a short time, leaving treasures such as Persona 3 and 4, Dragon Age and replayings of Final Fantasy X and X-2 (a travesty, I'm sure, to many of you) as well a first time run through Mass Effect. Smatterings of PC gaming dotted the time line briefly, much of my love for RPGs mostly reserved for the console. I dipped a toe into World of Warcraft and went through a short stint through Azeroth compared to many players; I played only for little more than a year, however and was the happier for it. Finally branching out to other genres, I took on the much beloved crowbar in the still unfinished playing of Half-Life 1 and picked up the Medi-Gun via Team Fortress 2. Portal touched my heart like no other, with the death of the Companion Cube and the treacherous lie of cake. Ace Attorney gave me the power to point my finger at people and yell, "Objection!".

This is, by no means, a summary nor a conclusion of my gaming career. Even though I'm wading deep through college, video games, especially RPGs, still nestle deep in my heart. I wait eagerly for Final Fantasy XIII and BioShock 2 as well all the other games to come. For now, I plug through exams and leave the gaming to the weekends. At least, until summer.   read

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