My very first experience with a video game was at a Toys R Us when I was 11. There was a demo for a little known game called Super Mario Brothers. My brother and I played it for a little bit and fell in love. The next time we convinced our poor mom to take us back they had changed it to a demo for Metroid. We were hooked. The only problem was we were too poor to own a console at that time, so we became arcade gamers. There was a 7/11 just down the street from where we lived and they had a shiny new Shinobi arcade cabinet. We would spend our allowances and one time we traded in all our baseball cards just so we could play that game. Come to think of it, I wonder if we spent enough on that game that we could have bought a NES had we saved it all? There were other games we would play at the mall if we got a chance like Robocop with the light gun and a few others others whose names I don’t remember.
One of my friends got an NES for Christmas that year and we would take turns playing Metroid. I loved that game and that’s putting it mildly. I honestly think that sometimes the only reason I hung out with him was for Metroid and his mom’s boyfriends’ Playboy collection. We were eleven, what did we know? One name. Vanna White issue. Anyway back to more important childhood memories. Metroid had it all…Vanna Freaking White! Sorry, Metroid had it all. I loved the exploration and the discovery of new areas and figuring out how to get somewhere I couldn’t go before. I never did beat that game. The next year we moved from the big city, Salt Lake City, to a small town in Nebraska, O’Neill. I was bummed. They didn’t even have an arcade.
Move forward a year or so and I had moved on to other things for entertainment. Skateboarding was what we did, it was really the only thing to do. We had a pretty big group that would go out all the time. I sucked at it, but I did it because it was fun and it was a good way to make friends and hang out with my cousin. Then he got a NES and Ninja Gaiden. Screw skateboarding.
We would take turns on that game and would leave it on overnight just so we wouldn’t have to start over. If I remember right this was before game saves, there might have been code saves but I can’t really remember. We would get in trouble all the time for playing too much. Our town finally got a dedicated arcade. It had like 3 cabinets and some carnival type games but all we cared about was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was an addiction and we would actually fight other kids because they would either shove us off while it was our turn or they would take too long. Of course we were never wrong it was always our turn. LOVED that game. My mom got us a Super Nintendo later that year. With it we got Super Mario Brothers 3 and Qbert, both for the original Nintendo.
I loved both of them. Soon after that my brother and I got in a argument and he threw the Nintendo out the window of our house and it smashed on the drive way below. My mom swore off games after that. I can’t even remember what game we were arguing about but it was stupid. Every once in awhile we would get to rent a system if we were good little boys but I started getting into sports and other things and videogames took a back seat for quite some time.
Fast forward about a decade and I’m a grown man, still a child inside. My friend and I had just returned home from serving a mission for our church and his dad had purchased him a new computer and Half Life for Christmas. It was our first weekend home and we decided to have a sleep over and take turns playing. Well it turned out I just played by myself because he fell asleep. I played all night and into the next day. I heard an angelic choir singing. Gaming had returned to my life. From that moment on I started figuring out how I was gonna get a computer for Half Life. I ended up getting a N64 first, Golden Eye was taking the world by storm, I played some games but wasn’t really a gamer. I got into Duke Nukem and Turok and I remember really liking a turn based third person stealth game Hybrid Heaven. Rainbow Six came on the N64 and that’s when I found my genre. My brother and I would play coop and it was awesome! I loved how hard it was and how you could plan and watch it come together. Later when I got a PC I got the whole R6 collection and played every game in the series since. That’s a series I would love to see return to its roots.
When processors hit the 1ghz mark I decided to get my first PC. I had just had a broken up engagement and had saved some money for the wedding and decided to go on a spending spree. I didn’t know anything about PC’s or how to build them at the time so I just got one from a computer store pre-built. Deus Ex was my first game purchased at EB Games that same day. I didn’t sleep for 3 days. I liked it more than I liked Half Life. It blew me away. I ended up playing it multiple times just to see what I could do differently. This is when I consider myself becoming a gamer. I didn’t have stupid “life stuff” like girlfriends holding me back any longer (sarcasm should be noted, women are wonderful in so many ways). I played PC almost exclusively since I got rid of all my consoles for my fiance, because she didn’t like games. I got into Operation Flashpoint. Ground Control. Homeworld. Hitman. There were so many good PC games coming out I was in heaven. But then I hit a wall. I needed to upgrade which means I needed money which I didn’t have. I had to sell my computer just to make rent once. It was a sad day. My gaming days were over.
About a year later I was able to get a cheap computer. Battlefield 1942 beta was happening and it was amazing! The first time I had seen large warfare done in multiplayer and have so many vehicles and large locations and 64 players all duking it out online. My gosh if I had a chance to get away from gaming this ruined it. My first match I piloted a submarine drove a air craft carrier and then launched mortars into Wake Island from said air craft carrier. I was ruined. After Christmas, I got a new Xbox and Halo from a kid who got two by accident, one from his parents and one from his grandparents. He was selling it cheap, so I got it brand new with Halo for 150 bucks. But I was going on vacation so it was a week before I could play.
Halo and the Xbox changed things for me in a very real way. I was social and had friends in my life but because of Halo and Halo nights at our house I made some of the best friends I have ever had and had some of the best memories of my life because of it. We had 30+ people show up for our halo nights in our house. We would have 16 people running Halo upstairs and then have another 16 set up downstairs for either Halo or Rainbow Six 3 or Ghost Recon. But there was always Halo. It was the first time I had been able to be social and game at the same time. We would have so many close matches and rivalries that were just fun. No cheaters. No modders. No hard feelings…I take that back I hated losing to certain people. SMALLZ!!! That carried on until Halo 2. With the rising popularity of Xbox Live we started just meeting online. But it just wasn’t the same. That is also when I changed from competitive gaming to coop gaming. I missed the fun we had on Halo nights and how we would all be screaming and having a good time and coop games did that more for me than online competition. I started playing more and more coop and less and less competitive.
So why am I a gamer? It’s more about the social aspect than anything else. I like having such a large group of like-minded people getting together and having fun. I like when in Battlefield a plan comes together and we all witness something awesome happen in every freaking match. I love when we’re playing GTA and we are running from the cops and we have an action movie play out in front of us, totally at random, and probably will never witness that same thing again. I used to compete in athletics in high school and between injuries and laziness I couldn’t compete anymore and video games helped keep that spirit alive. I liked the thrill of competition. I appreciate the art and the dedication developers put into these other worlds and experiences. I love immersing myself into another life and seeing what I can get out of a game. The tech side of the industry is amazing and always changing, and sometimes it falls flat, but then sometimes we get game-changers. There is always something new to look forward to. I love the conventions and getting that news feed through the week and the reveal trailers and all the hype that builds up. It all makes it such a unique experience compared to any other medium. Cars are probably the only other industry that can get close. I have a passion for this stuff. I love reading about it. Watching it. Living it. We have so much to look forward to this year but beyond this year is even more exciting. As a gamer and as a budding website there are things coming that will blow our pants off and we would love to have you along for the ride…and free pants.