My long-time followers know I’m not only a father, an ex-husband, a wannabe author, and a generous and giving lover, I am also a gamer. I like to joke I was born with a controller in my hand, but the accompanying mental images are less cute and more horrifying (anyone who has witnessed a birth can attest to this).
The point being, I have played and loved games for as far back as I can remember. I recall begging my parents for a Nintendo Entertainment System, assuring them Super Mario Bros. was the only game I’d ever need (fortunately, they were far less short-sided than I, and also picked up Contra).
Most of my childhood memories consist of going to my friends’ houses and staying up all night conquering new worlds. Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus… All the classics, and tons I’m probably better off forgetting. I remember the first time I heard a game “talk” (“Blades of Steel!”, followed shortly after by “The Adventures of Bayou Billy”).
The Super Nintendo gave me some of my greatest moments of my youth. Even then, I used characters from stories I was working on, pretending they were in an alternate reality. Strange to think I still have some of those old stories bouncing around in my head.
The Nintendo 64 was next (noticing a trend?) and it was responsible for introducing me to how much better it could be to move in three dimensions. There were several good games for it, but the tides were changing. More competitors were throwing their hats in the ring, and it would fundamentally change what it meant to be a gamer.
Before the Playstation, gaming (at least in my neck of the woods) was kind of like playing D&D… It seemed like something everyone should be into, but it was a fast and furious way to be branded a nerd. Suddenly, everyone was talking about games, as the hobby became more and more mainstream.
I can’t really recall what led to me jumping ship from Nintendo to Sony, but once I did, I never looked back. If Nintendo was the champion of my youth, Playstation signified my adult life. Games were no longer just for kids. I’d grown up, and they had grown up along with me. I still loved Mario and the gang, but these new games were cinematic, epic. It was a new era for gaming, and I was gladly swept along.
I worked at Best Buy when the PS2 launched, but I told myself I wouldn’t succumb to the temptation. I lasted a week. Once the second shipment came in, I jumped at the chance to pick one up. Through all the years of love and abuse, it still works to this day, which is good because I kept all my old games (including my beloved copy of Champions of Norrath).
After a time, a new contender stepped up: the Xbox. The long-rumored machine from Microsoft came with a hard drive, a concept that would revolutionize consoles to follow. I was given an Xbox late into it’s life cycle, and while I recall bringing it and my 30″ tube TV over for Halo LAN parties, I never used it quite as much as my PS2.
I only bought my PS3 a few years ago, but it quickly became one of my favorite consoles ever. Even though I have less time than ever to enjoy it, my PS3 remains a go-to for when I want to relax. Once I subscribed to Playstation Plus, I had access to more games than I could possibly play.
So why inundate you with all of this? Well, today is the launch of the PS4, followed by the Xbox One next week. For console gamers, next gen is upon us. While the gaming forums have been more volatile than political discussions during an election, as gamers, we should be united in our excitement.
Though I’m inclined to get the PS4, I fully acknowledge what the Xbox One and the Wii U bring to the table. If this new generation offers as many memories and good times as consoles past, this is a good time to be a gamer.
Now I just need to save up the money to join the revolution.
Thanks for playing!