Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Gamer

I wrote this for an IGN contest. It didn't state clearly that the entry must be less than a 100 words. Oh well, I dug it, so I'm sharing it with you guys.

I remember it vividly. I opened up the freezer door and took out the ice pack. I wrapped it in paper towels and went over to the Commodore 64. I sighed as I powered it up and looked over at the broken controller of the Coleco. Someone else would have to keep the world safe from pixelated lines that were trying to destroy the city in War Games. I had newspapers to deliver in Paperboy. I started the system, and five minutes in, like clock work, the big, brick power supply began to heat up. I grabbed the ice pack and put it on top of the power supply, I could get about an hour worth of playtime before the Commodore would shut down. We probably could have taken the computer off the carpet onto some kind of table. But I was eight years old, and these newspapers weren't going to deliver themselves. Dodging trashcans, trying not to break windows, avoiding cars, and for some reason traversing a BMX course; only one thought came to mind. Did I have enough time to play Skate or Die before the the C64 overheated?

I was a gamer.

My ignorance of the tech was only tied to my needs as a gamer. As a kid, I cared about playability. And between me and my friends, we had the systems available covered. When I got a Nintendo, My friend gets a Super Nintendo. I get a Sega Genesis, my friend gets an Turbo Graphix 16. Of course my parents didn't understand the obsession. And more often than not, assumed that the "next best thing" was just as good. My buddy gets a GameBoy, I got an Atari Lynx (I thought it was kinda cool despite the 30 batteries it took to run it). I asked my folks for a Sega CD, they got me a portable boom box that played CDs. I quickly realized that if I was going to keep up with the ever-changing landscape that was video games, I'd have to take a more hands on approach.

After saving and scrounging every dollar I could find, I ended up getting my Sega CD. And of course, it was my first lesson in buyer's remorse. I had a total of five games for the system, and there wasn't one that I could say was memorable. I learned the lesson every gamer learns when they start having to purchase their own games; do your research, first! In fact, the most memorable thing I remember about the system is selling it to put toward the purchase of my Playstation system. Again, my parents were lost. It was the first time I bought a system that a game didn't come with it, and I guess they thought for the price they were paying for, the thing should've been asking me if I wanted to play Global Thermonuclear War. My folks helped me on the purchase of the Playstation, but I had to get my own game. That game was Wipeout. You remember that Maxell commercial back in the 80's where the dude was quite literally being blown away by his TV? Picture that in a teenager.

Video games had inadvertently turned me into an audio/video wizard. I cared about graphics and sound. I was able to rig my stereo boom box to the audio of the Playstation. This ability to rig my system didn't stop there. Being poor and wanting to continue my love for games had me finding creative ways to get a hold of games. Modding my systems became a must.

The tech developed quickly, and if you blinked for even a moment, you'd miss the next gen. My first real experience with this was DreamCast. I missed out on the experience due to a mix of a steady girlfriend and bills. I never blinked when the Playstation 2 came out, but I heard so much after the fact about how the system had things that no other system had. I felt a little cheated out of the ordeal, probably because the girlfriend at the time was cheating on me, but more that she made me miss out on games! Thankfully, I was just in time for the PS2. And if I owe any system for getting me over the blues, it would be that little system with the steady blue "on" light on my entertainment system.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Not a game or a system or a mobile device goes without my scrutiny. The shit's expensive nowadays, there's no way I'm getting stuck with a Zune (this coming from a guy who was stuck with an mp3 playing CD because I refused to buy an iPod on account of my PC fanboy-ism, I got over it). When I leave the house to do some work, any combination of my laptop, iPad, iPhone, and/or PS Vita are more than likely in my bag. If I'm getting a new TV? You're damn right refresh rate matters. Anything less than 720p and you're going to make me laugh.

So why should I get a chance to go to E3? Because IT matters to me, and I don't just mean information technology. I mean the games, the tech, and the how we integrate them into our lives. It matters to me because it's been a part of me, and I feel it's a large part of a lot of other folks out there that have the same story as me. How much does it matter to me? The fact that I'm submitting this 30 minutes before deadline because I just got Max Payne 3 in this weekend and I couldn't put it down is a clear indicator of how much I love this.

I am, always have been, and will continue to be; a gamer.


voss451 said...

It sounds like you had a pretty good run of it. Growing up, my cousins (that lived 2 hrs away) had a C64 and literally a hundred games. From Dig-Dug to Chopper Command to Popeye, they had 'em all. All I had was a Telstar Pong machine and a Commodore Vic 20. It wasn't until I was 20 or so and working that I got an SNES. After that, I've been getting next gen systems but only 3-4 yrs after they come out and the price drops below $300.

Nicely written piece sir.

Americo said...

Appreciate it man, thanks.