My Intro to Gaming

My first video game console was not actually “my console.” I was born in the mid-80s, my sister was born three years earlier and the NES came out just a few months after my sister was born (that sounds like the start to a mathematical brain buster). I don’t recall the exact year we brought an NES into our home, but I do remember that it was not mine to begin with. The first console I ever played on was actually my sister’s NES.

Of course, I became the more persistent “gamer” over the years and I’m the one who continues to play games today (now on multiple platforms: currently PS4, Nintendo Switch and sometimes PC). It’s strange to think that my first gaming experiences were on my sister’s Nintendo Entertainment System (with games like Mario Bros, Duck Hunt and Adventures in Magic Kingdom). We “shared” multiple Nintendo consoles, including the SNES and the N64, but those would slowly become more “mine” than “ours.”

There were a few Game Boys along the way. I owned my first and second SEGA consoles: the Game Gear and the Dreamcast, before jumping into the next console wars which still rage on today: X-Box vs Playstation (Microsoft vs Sony). I started with a Playstation 2, next an X-Box (purchased solely for The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay), an X-Box 360, and now my PS4 and PC (Also a Wii U, which I rarely used. I did get it for free from Amazon, but that’s a story for another day).

The Switch brought me back to being a Nintendo fanboy as I was growing up. I may do most of my gaming on my Switch these days, due to portability and ease of use. However, I still love my big PS4 games (Spider-Man, God of War, The Last of Us and Uncharted series). I also cannot wait to jump into the next-gen with a PS5 (which I have not ordered yet, due to my large PS4 backlog).

My gaming consoles throughout the years.

Why I Love Games

That’s a short history of how I fell into gaming, my owned consoles and where I stand today, but I’ve been trying to figure out why I love games so much. I don’t just play them, I spend most of my day reading and researching about them. I watch and listen to gaming podcasts while working (mostly because I can absently listen to these while getting stuff done). Maybe it’s because the real news is full of sad and depressing stories, while gaming hype is always exciting and fun. I even get excited for gaming news on titles that I have no interest in playing (I think it’s cool when they make a new Skyrim, even though I’ve never even tried a Skyrim before).

I’ve always used games (and movies and TV) as a way to escape from reality. I haven’t had a particularly sad life, I just really enjoy getting lost in these worlds. When I go to the movie theater I usually put my phone on moon mode (aka do not disturb mode) so that no one can bother me. I usually have my phone next to me while gaming, but anytime I’ve left my phone charging in another room I seem to immerse myself deeper in games.

I think this is also why I love doing improv so much. I first started taking classes about four or five years ago and now I’m performing regularly in a few shows each week (at least I was before the COVID times). I love creating new worlds and it’s especially fun when you’re building them with other creative people, on the spot.

Although I’ve always loved my long weekend solo gaming sessions, I do miss the days of playing games with friends, IRL (In Real Life). My buddy used to come to my house with a new co-op game and random snacks and we’d attempt to beat the entire game in one weekend (while also conquering all of the snacks). When we were finally able to drive, we would drive down to Gamestop (or EB Games) and search for any old multiplayer game that we may have missed, just to try to beat as quickly as possible.

Now, with my girlfriend and because of the current pandemic I am able to play games with my favorite person (my girlfriend) on the couch. On the Nintendo Switch (we mostly stick to Rocket League, Mario Kart and some Splatoon 2). We’re currently waiting on Overcooked 3, after beating parts 1 & 2 in about a month (Let’s go Team17!). I sometimes bring my PS4 so we can play some Fall Guys (which is the perfect game for handing off the controller between rounds), also I get to play Gran Turismo and NBA2k (and those backlog games I’m trying to finish) once she falls asleep.

SIDE NOTE: A few years back I also became a bit obsessed with board games. I now have a large collection of them, many of which I have yet to play. It’s hard to be a board game collector and have other friends who are also board game collectors. Any time it’s board game day, half of the day is spent debating which game(s) and who’s game(s) will be played. I love board games for the same reasons I love playing co-op, split screen and multiplayer games with friends in the same room. Whether we’re going up against each other, breaking up into teams or working cooperatively, it’s just better to play together (or against each other) in person. It just feels right (I much prefer that to playing with or against some random kid in Ohio who uses too many curse words over a headset).

I also have watched the evolution of online gaming. I remember the early days where playing Madden online was much different than playing against someone in person (the gameplay). You had to adjust your play style for the lag. Juking and spinning were all used very differently depending on whether you were up against the CPU, your cousin in your living room or some random kid in Ohio online (I don’t know why I think Ohioan kids play so much online games, but they just do).

It’s exciting how far the tech has come that we can play multiplayer games with anyone, anywhere — including friends who don’t live in our same area code. Some games even allow you to play with 100 or more people at once (the other day I tried some COD:Warzone and it said there were 150 people playing in my match. That’s insane!). It gives us a way to “hang out” with our far away friends. I’ve never really been into using my headset and talking to strangers while playing games. I will use my headset with friends, but it also can be distracting. 

When I first bought Borderlands 3, I was playing through the beginning while talking to my friend on my headset who was also playing the game, but way ahead of me. It was nice to be talking to my buddy, but it was distracting and kept me out of the story (a story that I very quickly learned I did not really care for).

I love video games because I love creating and I love writing. And to become a better creator I believe you must consume content. Video games are my favorite way to consume stories since you actually immerse yourself in them. You control a character, you make the choices, you become part of their world. Games are stories that you aren’t just consuming, you’re living them. And that is why I love video games.

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