When I sat down to blog about when I started loving videogames, I had to stop, because that is literally the most impossible question to answer for a gamer. Sure, maybe you can pinpoint a moment in your life when you felt an initial spark; goosebumps that started an infatuation with the medium. But much like real love, a feeling of butterflies in your stomach isn't everything; love grows and expands and changes, much like gaming itself has transformed over the years. I am not the same young boy that started playing the NES when he was five, but I started to feel the pull back then. And as I grew older, I fell in love with different aspects of videogames as consoles came and went; and it is my hope that I will still have that sense of wonder, excitement, and passion for gaming as that old couple up there when I am seventy with the love of my life playing right next to me. I will try my best to illustrate to you, the internet gaming public, the many times I have fallen in love with videogames over the years.
You could say I got a crush on videogames back in the late 80's, when I was little, cute, adorable Arthur. Surprisingly, I don't really remember playing Super Mario. Bros.
when I was a boy; a game many can say was their first love when they first picked up a controller. No, the game I remember making my child heart leap was Duck Hunt
, because I got to use a gun to shoot things on the television. It didn't matter that the game was easy because I put the gun right on the television screen and no one had the heart to tell me that was wrong
; I was shooting ducks and clay discs, dammit (and yes, I fell in love with it all over again when I found out, twenty years later, that player 2 could control the ducks with a controller plugged in). I didn't play The Legend of Zelda
back then, but I can tell you I loved Super Mario Bros. 3
because of my cousin and that stupid Fred Savage movie. I loved learning secrets together with my cousin, like finding out where the three magic flutes were hidden (ducking into the background under that white block was one of my first videogame secrets, and I pooped my pants out of the sheer wonder of it all). I was scared of Angry Sun (whom we called Mean Mr. Sun) because my cousin would scream when he swooped down to kill him and that made me scream, too (I was impressionable, shut up). My mom played Bugs Bunny: Crazy Castle
with my aunt and they always screamed at the top of their lungs when they died, and momma played frickin' Battletoads
with me once (we never made it past level 2).
My boyhood crush soon developed into a lasting love once the SNES came around. This is when shit started getting serious and real; like "take this girl back to meet the parents" level of realness. Super Mario World
was something I cherished and enjoyed, but I always felt my cousin was better at it than me, to the point where he helped me beat levels I always got stuck on, so that wasn't really something I fell in love with. A Link to the Past
gave me chills with its story, music, gameplay, and graphics (did you not piss yourselves when you first went outside and it was RAINING?! I did. Looking back at the Super Mario Bros. 3
story, I clearly have problems with bodily functions). Super Metroid
made me feel a level of isolation and exploration that has not been matched since, and I got to see that women can be just as strong a protagonist as men can be. I also remember Super Metroid
being the first game to make me shed a tear with everything that happens with the little baby metroid (and don't tell me you didn't cry when Draygon's kids buried their momma in the sand after you fried her, YOU HORRIBLE PERSON). Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
wowed me with its storybook look and I got to experience the first drug hallucination in a videogame. RPGs like Chrono Trigger
helped get me in touch with my emotions: laughter, sadness, happiness, and regret (I felt for Ness when he missed his mom and grew homesick, and screwing up saving Lucca's mom from losing her legs was something that happened to me; something I would have hated myself forever for doing if I didn't save beforehand and had to live with that mistake). My love wasn't relegated to just one game company anymore, either...
Turns out I can love two things AT THE SAME TIME (I was such a greedy little scamp). I loved Mario, but I loved Sonic, too! The sense of magic that made my eyes swell with tears of joy upon first hearing the music to Green Hill Zone; man, you DON'T EVEN KNOW (I STILL get teary-eyed hearing that first note). Lasting bonds with friends formed over arguments playing Streets of Rage 2
and Gunstar Heroes
, as we accidentally took turkeys from each other even though we had full health and we threw one another into enemies because it was so damn fun. Yes, I did figure out you could throw a paper airplane in Comix Zone
without the aid of the internet, and I did put every cartridge imaginable on top of Sonic & Knuckles
(though I never knew what happened if you put more than one Sonic & Knuckles
on top of each other; I'm guessing system explosion). Splatterhouse 3
gave me nightmares with its gore and cinematic cutscenes, and Shadow Dancer
let me command a dog to bite a guy's nuts while I gave him a shuriken to the skull. I always loved the Genesis for its sense of speed and violence, while I loved the SNES for its sense of adventure and emotions that it elicited from the player.
With my teenage years came a snottiness: 64 bits was better than 32 bits (because SCIENCE), so the N64 was a large part of my life before the PlayStation. 3D gaming was something I had never experienced before, and I was instantly floored by the massive landscapes of Super Mario 64
and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
(which still has one of the best ending sequences EVER). Star Fox 64
shocked me with its voice acting and Mario Party
showed me it is o.k. to tear into your flesh as long as you win minigames and beat your friends. Due to familial urgings, however, I was tempted to try out what I once thought of as an inferior machine. I am happy to say the PlayStation delivered in a different way than the N64: Metal Gear Solid
was the first game I owned for Sony's console, and I learned that movie-like storytelling and stealth gameplay can co-exist to create one hell of an experience. The Resident Evil
titles brought me fond memories of awful voice acting, an intuitive, multi-scenario story that was told across two discs, and a giant that stalked you throughout every room that seemingly could not be killed. I spent hours breeding that one Gold Chocobo in Final Fantasy VII
, and I explored all 200.6% of the castles in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
. Grand adventures weren't just relegated to Nintendo anymore, and I fell in love with both systems for different reasons (I could beat the crap out of three of my friends in Super Smash Bros.
while still having a cat scare the ever living crap out of me in Silent Hill
I could fill this blog with so many stories about various moments I fell in love with gaming over my lifetime: the lasting effects of Silent Hill 2
on my psyche, being pleasantly surprised that Samus Aran and Leon S. Kennedy could go through massive, game-changing transformations in their respective franchises, silently breathing "wow" upon first booting up Bioshock
and feasting my eyes on its visuals, and feeling a sense of boyhood wonder upon first playing Rock Band
or using the Wii controller for the first time. The main thing I want to get across is this: a love for gaming is ever-growing and ever-changing; and just as the heart has many different emotions and facets to it, so too does a bond with gaming as a whole. And you can tell me now that there is a reticule on top of the Zapper for shooting the ducks in Duck Hunt
from far away and you can tell me that Mean Mr. Sun can be killed by a Koppa shell in Super Mario Bros. 3
, but you can never take away the happiness and fear I felt about those things as a kid. Love has so many emotions attached to it, and those little electronic boxes have an abundance of feelings attached to them.
Here's to hoping the future of gaming goes hand in hand with an everlasting love.