Games That Made Me a Gamer

I am a very simple person when it comes to games. I’ll give anything a chance if it has a good story, beautiful art and a long list of side quests that add an extra 20 hours to the game. Growing up I only had a few systems but the games I played on them played for very long and very often I can distinctly remember one game per stage of my childhood that stuck with me and reminded me that a jug of water and a king-sized pack of Twizzlers is all I need to survive for three days.

Youth and Crystal Shards

The Christmas my parents got my sister and I a Nintendo 64 was the first time we ever hugged voluntarily. We weren’t the most touchy feely of siblings, but our closest moments were spent with her playing video games and me watching intently and sometimes looking up how to beat a hard level.

One moment in particular that stays with me was when we played and beat Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. It was not so much the game that stuck with me but the seemingly infinite power combinations you could create with Kirby swallowing multiple enemies. I remember my sister and I spent a lot of time combining random powers and taking notes on them so we wouldn’t repeat anything.

The one that stuck out to me was the combination of Ice and Electricity. This power combination turned Kirby into a refrigerator that spat out food at enemies. It wasn’t the most effective power but it was good for replenishing health since Kirby could eat the food he spat out. I think this is what sparked my love for obsessive detailed gaming.

Two Days After Christmas

I remember when I was in 9th grade, I went to Best Buy with my mom. I remember feeling a bit out of it because something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it though, but I felt as if I needed to shake up my routine a bit. At that time, I hadn’t learned that I was the type of person that needed to rotate my hobbies or else they would feel stale to me. So while she was looking at things to get papa, I perused the game section, knowing I wasn’t going to get anything, but seeing what was new.

That’s when my eyes saw this elaborate anime cover on a game called Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis. Like I mentioned before…I’m incredibly easy. It was an aluminum box with the game and a soundtrack cd and needless to say I couldn’t put it down. Around the time that I finished gawking, my mom showed up and asked if that was something I’d like for Christmas. We tend to give one present the person asks for and then the rest are a surprise. My answer was possibly the fasted yes to ever come out of my mouth!

Christmas came around and mom delivered. Unfortunately, I was in another one of my moods, so I wasn’t the happiest Christmas elf. I did thank her and papa for all of my gifts and retreated back to my dark cave of a room with only my laptop and Playstation 2 for company. I started the game immediately and slowly but surely got used to the game play. It was centered around students at an achemist academy and you had to balance turning in projects and saving the world.

The strict schedule captivated me. I was obsessed with making every deadline, level grinding and farming items so that future tasks would be easier to finish! Before I knew it, Christmas was over and an entire day had gone by. I couldn’t tell you what I ate, I remember sleeping once and I going to the bathroom was a blur. After a three day marathon, I had finished the game. 100% completion and suddenly the dark fog disappeared from my head.

A sense of confidence came back to me and I felt ready to go back to school and tackle the new semester. That was the moment I realized that I needed to keep gaming as a constant in my life, not just as a hobby. I realized that no matter how busy my life gets or how depressed I may be at times, I need to make time to play something, even if it’s a simple phone game. Otherwise I might as well slap a turtle shell on my back and live on an island!

A Fabulous Lesson Relearned

So in 2011 I was getting used to the college life and managed to balance two jobs, a full school schedule and play rehearsals. I was getting busy again and it was getting to me. While I could bury myself in my work, it didn’t get rid of this tension that persisted in my shoulders. I was prone to obsessing over things and giving way more of myself to people than I should have and that was a huge mistake.

At this point I didn’t have a game console. I didn’t have the money or the time to get it before I left for college and time just slipped away from me. Fewer and fewer games were being released on the Nintendo DS and I was feeling that fog again. I needed to get my life back on track! My gaming life that is!

Rent was paid, electricity was paid and I had a house filled with groceries. I was doing really well and still had a check coming that week. So I told myself that it was time! I went straight from the bank to the pawn shop down the street from my house and bought a new TV and Playstation 3. I was so proud of myself I didn’t even know what games to get! I started from what I knew and bought games that I knew I would like. But the first one I got was Bayonetta.

I had seen reviews for this game, I was familiar with the soundtrack and the ridiculous antics that would ensue but it was nothing compared to controlling this bodacious wild woman and destroying creatures the size of skyscrapers. I was challenged but I was also having fun! And once I got to equip her Katanas it was over for my social life!

Luckily at this point I learned that I couldn’t hermit myself and shrink from my responsibilities, but it reignited the fire in me that loved to be immersed in another world! I realized once again that I had let gaming go to the wayside and it affected me more than I thought. Since then I’ve always had something on me to obsess over. Or at least a game or two on standby to grab when I have some free time.

Am I more balanced now?

Not at all! I am terrible at balancing my work with my play! But I am more aware than ever of my habits and my quirks. I keep a random collection of games on my phone for when my hands get that urge and I try to get at least one game a month to keep myself preoccupied when I’m not doing much else. Gaming is an unwavering part of my life that I cant foresee letting go. It gets me through some of my hardest times. Because sometimes a person needs a win and video games provide that for me.

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