Not just in number of hours, or in consoles, but in types. I’ve run the gamut from that fiddly golf-tee triangle game at Cracker Barrel, to flailing my arms wildly at a TV with a Wiimote. Gaming hasn’t changed, really, you can look back on the nostalgia of it all and its pretty clear (to me at least) that what makes games, gamers, and the whole concept of gaming, is still the same as it was when I first entered the world of gaming back around 1990.
What makes it that games have remained constant through the ages? It’s the expression behind them and the experiences had by the players. At its core gaming serves as a distraction from the toils of the everyday life, much like films, books, plays, or other entertainment media.
I can look back over my personal gaming experiences and remember the highs and lows, such as the first time beating The Legend of Zelda on NES, to the disappointment of Duke Nukem Forever. The scares at playing Parasite Eve, and Resident Evil at 2am with a friend, to the surprise at seeing Aeris die in Final Fantasy VII (spoiler). It’s been more good than bad, otherwise the industry wouldn’t survive, obviously.
I recall with fondness when that Nintendo that my brothers secretly bought out of the trunk of their friend’s car so that my parents wouldn’t find out was set up on the old RCA TV. I remember learning the right way to connect cables at a young age, as we had to connect and disconnect the adapter for the cable that ran to the cable-box to the Nintendo so that it could be hidden. They did, of course, find out and we had to sell (or loan, I honestly do not recall anymore) the console, but not before I got my game on with the classics, Duck Hunt, Mario Brothers, and Zelda.
I remember when I helped set up the early computer that my parents got, what was in it or what powered the beige box was beyond me, but I knew what cable went where and once it was together the first thing I did was load up the 5.25” floppy and get Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade up and running. Who could forget always making sure they kept everything that came in the box back then? God forbid you lose the game manual, or the red cellophane decoder that let you read the gibberish so you could play the game. I kind of miss those old days of DRM.
It was not long after that foray into PC gaming that the Internet was brought into the house. Was this a change for the better? Well of course it was! A new world opened up to me. Of course the speeds where slow, the fax machine noise was grating, and “DON’T PICK UP THE PHONE IM CONNECTING TO THE INTERNET” became a shout that was oft heard in the household. The ‘net brought multiplayer to the home. I ventured into that dark realm of MUDs then as well, literally, black background and white text, go-go Telnet!
From MUDs I found myself venturing into FPS, games that came on “Shareware CDs” that had hundreds of different games on them, from Redbeard’s Renegades (I think that was the name, it was a sort of pirate board game that pitted the player against several computer pirates that sailed around the Caribbean, if anyone knows the name please drop me a line, I would love to play it again) Commander Keen, Duke Nukem, Doom, Wolfenstien, all these and more!
The voyage of multiplayer and FPSs brought me into the tank warfare game Tanarus, which fed into the isometric-view Infantry Online, both under Sony Online Entertainment at the time. This took me to dabble into Everquest, in its first expansion. I can remember when I upgraded my RAM so that I could have all the races rendered with curves, as opposed to two or three!
There is a noticeable gap in my gaming resume after the days of EQ, primarily for my schooling which I had to attend to. During that time I played more RTSs than anything, Starcraft, Warcraft, Red Alert, and their expansions. I also did dabble in Counter Strike, only version 1.6, for a short while, as I found myself more attracted to Day of Defeat more. I was thrilled when the Source version was released, and played that quiet thoroughly. DoD:S naturally led into TF2, of which I still frequent.
Lots of games, lots of time, and lots of experiences. Gaming is a constant chain that many people can follow through back to their younger days, the experiences that it brings to the table that many people can share in are fantastic. Two strangers can meet and, if they both have any gaming history, immediately have a topic to discuss, or debate. I don’t consider myself pegged into one hole as a PC gamer, or console gamer, handheld, or mobile, or whatever terms they use now, a gamer is a gamer, and we all play for different reasons, but the core fact is that we all play.
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