Video Games: How I Got Started As a Gamer

I used to play a lot of video games.

It started as a kid. My dad got an NES when Nintendo first released it. I remember playing a lot of Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, and Bubble Bobble. I remember the World Class Track Meet game and the Power Pad, running furiously on a plastic mat. I remember playing Excitebike at a friend’s house.

My real interest in video games happened when I ended up at a hospital. I was about 10 or so. I was there for an operation for a really painful swelling. I was really scared, since I had never been in surgery before. I had to stay overnight. To keep me company, the nurses brought in a TV with an SNES and Super Mario World. I had never played an SNES before. I was captivated by the tight gameplay, immersive world, and interesting challenges. I played that game long into the night. After I left the hospital, my parents got me an SNES (I think we were at a Toys R Us.)

Through the years, video games were a constant part of my life. I remember renting games from Blockbuster and trying to get as far as I could before I had to return them. I especially enjoyed Japanese Role Playing Games, with the emphasis on narrative, worldcrafting, and music. I remember playing Star Ocean: The Second Story, and looking at every item, reading each one’s description. I started getting into emulation, playing old games that I never had the chance to get, some of which were fan translations from Japanese. I remember games like Seiken Densetsu 3, Tales of Phantasia, and Front Mission. I remember PC games like Jazz Jackrabbit and Star Control 2.

I actually learned some important lessons from some of these games. Suikoden II taught me that good intentions can lead to evil outcomes. Suikoden III taught me how to respect another person’s cultural beliefs, even if you disagree with them. Katamari Damacy taught me to not take things too seriously.

There are so many games that I started but never finished. Metroid Prime. Okami. Final Fantasy I, IV, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X. And some games that I did. Chrono Trigger. Valkyrie Profile. The World Ends With You. Although even for these, I finished them but didn’t complete them.

I also remember when I decided to give it up. After college, I became more and more busy with the responsibilities of adult life. I spent less and less time playing video games. When I did have free time, I wanted to spend it exercising or socializing with friends or reading. At one point, several years ago, I looked at my games and realized, “I don’t want this to be a part of my life anymore.” I sold some of my games and gave all the rest away, and haven’t looked back since.

This isn’t to say that I’ve given up on games completely. The last game I played was an iOS version of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, earlier this spring (although I haven’t finished that either.) I still keep up some with gaming news, watching out for new releases. I’m not much for horror games, but Until Dawn seems really well done. I still listen to video game music, which is the subject of another post.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with video games. It’s just that at this point, I don’t want them to be a dominant part of my life. Maybe that’ll change sometime in the future. I still consider this medium with great fondness. Games helped me through some pretty tough parts of my life. But in some ways, they helped me mask my loneliness. A subject of another post.

Just for fun, here are some other video game memories:

– Watching my friend in the final battle of Final Fantasy Tactics using Orlandu to pretty much destroy everything.
– Playing Sonic the Hedgehog and trying to see what happens by spindashing constantly (will it rip through the floor?)
– Beating Mega Man X and waiting at the last screen with Sigma to see if something happens.
– Using the ice towers in Warcraft III tower defense and watching as the entire game slows to a crawl.
– Playing StarCraft just to learn more about the story, so using cheat codes in the campaign. Power Overwhelming. Show Me the Money. Operation CWAL. Black Sheep Wall.
– Listening to the sound test in Guilty Gear X and the excellent character themes. Particular favorites: Holy Orders (Ky Kiske), Babel Nose (Jam Kuradoberi), Fuuga (Anji Mito).
– Talking with my friends about which Helper in Kirby Super Star was the best (top choices were TAC and Plasma Wisp).

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