I'll warn you that this blog is epically long compared to what I usually write, and that it really isn't that well constructed. Prepare to be bored.
As far back as I can remember, I've had a controller in my hand. My father used to do that trick where he'd give me a controller that wasn't plugged in and make me think I was playing. We'd "play" NBA Jam together, and I would always
win. Fast forward a few years to when I can process things in my brain and move my hands at the same time. The Super Nintendo was finally mine to enjoy. There was a problem though; the games I loved were fucking
hard. At age five I was getting skull fucked* by my favorite video games, their challenge thrown at my face like so many piles of scalding hot man love.
The games in question? The first one that comes to mind Sunset Riders
, a Contra
clone set in the wild west with a different kind of extreme action. It featured chases on horseback, pseudo-firstperson shoot outs, and inventive fun bosses. I never actually beat it as a child, until I accidentally game across a debug menu that gave my shaky hands unlimited credits and plenty of bullets. I was finally able to see that sonofabitch game through to completion and wipe the smug smile off of the final boss, (who you have to kill twice by the way, only the second time he's a superhero.) I can honestly say it was one of the happiest moments of my life.
The second game that comes to mind is the original Star Fox. This is the one that totally defeated my little five year old mind. I only ever manged to get to the third level once
. Once! I was absolutely abysmal at Star Fox. Looking back, I didn't realize how bad I was, because the only thing that really mattered to me was that I was having fun. I feel like this is something I've lost as my gaming "career" has progressed. It's not so much about the fun anymore, it's about how much the game can Wow!
The last game that really comes to my mind is Donkey Kong Country. Dear God, this game was crack to me. The only one I ever made significant progress in, and the game that sparked my love for action platformers. It's a game that gave me wondrous dreams of riding on the back of a gorilla through a strange South American jungle, searching for treasure, and being free from the tyranny of my, *ahem*, drunk parents. These games together helped to spark my love for video games, and instill in me patience, persistence, and a conviction to finish what I started.
Let's go forward a little bit farther now, to my sixth Christmas. Santa had heard my wishes and received my letters, and I woke up to find a Playstation under my tree. I swear to you that I was cuter than the N64 kid by a million miles. This system changed my life. showed me a whole new world of graphics, and introduced me to games with substance. Let's dive in, shall we?
One of the first games I played on my Playstation was Spyro the Dragon. At first I didn't understand how to control it, but it didn't frustrate me. I just enjoyed the fact that I could explore this new beautiful world. The worlds weren't the typical fire, ice, water, lightning montage I'd seen before. Instead there was the incredibly inventive "dream world" and the "magic realm". It helped to change what I expected out of the average video game, and made me into an elitist six year old prick. Hell, one of my fondest memories was watching my Dad discover rumble and drop the controller out of fear.
Maybe a year later with several platformers under my belt, I was in a Target with my mother. We were browsing the video game section, and we decided to ask the clerk if there was a good game we should try out. He reccomended Final Fantasy VII (The Greatest Hits Edition), and seeing that spiky haired mynx on the game cover with his giant ass sword was enough to make me beg her to buy it for me. I had no idea what I was in for, of course. This game was my very first RPG, and considering the fact that it was text heavy meant that it was hard for me to understand the story. I had to have my Mother come in and read it for me whenever she could, until I slowly started to comprehend the words on my own. In a way Final Fantasy VII taught me how to read, but more importantly than that, it gave me a gigantic
world to explore full of characters that I cared about. I think this game is what really set my passion for video games on fire.
On my eighth Christmas all I got was an N64 (I'm an only child by the way), and I was privileged enough to play Banjo Kazooie. To me, it was the perfect evolution of Donkey Kong Country that I had loved as a child, and it had a more complex story. It was like a combination of Final Fantasy VII and Donkey Kong; or so it seemed at the time. This and Banjo Tooie are two of my favorite games of all time, and they ended up being the games I invested most of my childhood into. Nostalgia always wins.
Even farther in the future, and I have a PS2 and an Xbox. This time around I'm absorbed in the online component of Halo 2. Some might even say obsessed. The first couple years of middle school were hard on me, and I spent my time with my imaginary and real friends playing Halo 2, trying to get away from the pre-teen bullshit. For the most part, I had a good stable of online buddies to fuck around with in the Halo-Verse. Amazingly enough I found normal
people to play with, and by spending online time with them and interacting with them, I learned more social skills than I would have if I'd been hanging around with the drunk fucks at my middle school.
Video Games have shaped me as a person. I've learned patience, persistence, reading comprehension, and some basic social skills all thanks to the games I played growing up. We're all here because we love them, some of us more than others. They understand us better than our families ever did, in ways that only we could understand. They share epically written tales of despair and hope or lighthearted adventures with mustached plumbers. They let us hang out and talk to Santa Claus, go sledding with Jesus while fighting off robots with a make-shift bazooka, save the world from maniacal villains, and live out our repressed fantasies. They inspire us to check websites like DToid daily for any sort of game related news, make fantastic games like BonerQuest, and feel a strong enough connection with our fellow gamers that we can get together without knowing one another and have the time of our lives. I've never played a game through to completion without taking something from it, whether it be a new outlook on the world, an undying love for cutscenes, or an unhealthy fascination with old men.
I know that most of you have memories like the ones I've shared here today, and I'd encourage you to share them in the comments. I'm proud to be a gamer, and I wouldn't trade my hobby for anything. For the record I've always been an only child, and I've always shared my Christmas gifts with my father. We've never been ridiculously loaded.
*As I've said a thousand times, I curse because it makes me feel manly