In the Beginning there were Games…

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Allow me to take you back in time, upon a retrospective tour of my gaming foundations and collectively of my once and future youth. I was always a reader but I was also a gamer in my youth and in many aspects am unchanged even today. Back in the good year of the pig (1983), I was but a wee lad of July origins. So I’ll let you all do the math on the good old age there as well. I didn’t start playing games for several years actually, and it’s probably a good thing as well- heaven knows I’d surely be burnt out by now otherwise.

As it were, my gaming exploits would have to wait until 1989- five years after George Orwell’s dystopian Big Brother spied on everyone and one year prior to one of the greatest and/or strangest decades known to mankind. Even then, to call my exploits mere exploits is both too simple and entirely too much. My experiences were limited but I did get to play several now classic titles and I’m thankful for the opportunity then and now to get my hands on them. Amidst the games released that year I dabbled in Sega’s Phantasy Star II- one of the best role-playing titles of the time, the Game Boy’s Super Mario Land, Sega’s original Golden Axe- long before Beast Rider came in and mucked things up, Mega Man 2, Capcom’s Duck Tales, the original Prince of Persia- a series I’ve been in love with ever since, and Minesweeper on Windows.

So as you can see, I didn’t miss out on much although I did sadly miss the opportunity to play other classics such as SimCity and Castlevania 3. Some of my other exploits that year have to do with games that were previously released such as Galaga, Gauntlet, Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt, The Legend of Zelda, Contra, and probably other titles I’ve since forgotten. Obviously, although I dabbled with plenty of content ahead of my time, I still missed greats like Zelda II, Metal Gear, Punch Out (Mike Tyson’s), and Bionic Commando. Needless to say, it was a busy year for six year old me at the time.

Flash forward to another hectic year, this one in the nineties (1994 to be exact), and you’ll see a slightly different picture of ten or eleven year old me. By this time I’d gotten to experience Final Fantasy, The Secret of Monkey Island, Street Fighter II, Mario Kart, Wolfenstein 3D, The 7th Guest, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Doom. Somehow I survived playing such mature games and haven’t turned into a psycho killer quite yet. Then again, I never did play Ninja Gaiden or Mortal Kombat when I was that young so who knows. I’ve since gone back and played some of the games I remember from my earlier days, as well as others that I missed out on, but there’s something truly special about your initial playthrough at the time that some things just can’t top.

It would only be a few short years later that I began to make my way through senior high and my time to game ultimately would wind down a little bit for some time leading into college as well. It’s hard to believe that 1997 and 2001 would be such influential years in my young life and yet they were truly. Of course I’ve since continued my education at the master level in recent years (circa 2014 to the present) and yet it seems as if some things have never changed. For quite a while after the early 2000s I would have plenty of time to balance work and life and games and relationships, and yet now I find it difficult to include gaming although I still try to do my best to write fairly about it as a way of remembering its impact in my youth.

By 1997 I’d witnessed Star Wars Dark Forces, Chrono Trigger, Descent, Earthbound, Mech Warrior, Command and Conquer, Tekken, Rayman, Donkey Kong Country, Warcraft II, Zork, Super Mario 64, The Elder Scrolls II, Crash Bandicoot, Tomb Raider, Fallout, Diablo, Riven, and Quake II to name a few influential games of the time. I think the scariest thing is that several of those are games I would still be interested in investing hundreds of hours even today. So many classic series started back in the early to late nineties and are still hitting their stride today.

Things tapered off a little bit as I’ve already said, but somehow I still managed to sneak in Resident Evil, Spyro, Baldur’s Gate, EverQuest, System Shock, Soulcalibur, Planescape, Thief, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Silent Hill, and Ico by the time I would start college. It might seem as if I’m just naming names to name them, but many of the titles that are well-known and popular today were fairly well-known then as well even if they may not have exploded to as much critical acclaim initially. Only once you’ve gone back and really looked at what has been released over the years do you truly begin to pain the picture of just how many games and experiences have shaped your life as a whole. It’s quite astounding actually.

Over the next few years, my college adventures would be largely shaped by late nights spent studying, doing probably illicit and illegal things in regard to the things everyone experiments with and subsequently vomits because of, and playing competitive couch cooperative games here and there. 2001 to 2005 would pretty much be the era of Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Metal Gear Solid, Mario Kart, Splinter Cell, Sly Cooper, 007, Star Wars Jedi Knight II, Knights of the Old Republic, Call of Duty, SSX, Half-Life, Metroid Prime, Guitar Hero, and God of War. Litter in a few sports games like Madden and NBA 2K and that’s about the extent of my minimal gaming influence for a few years where I didn’t really have the time necessary to dedicate to many time sinks or RPGs.

From 2005 to roughly 2012 or maybe even 2013, I saw something of a sort of resurgence in both my playing and in the then-new console generation. I got an Xbox 360 having been a legacy Xbox player and didn’t regret it in the least. That was the first console generation that I made an effort to pick up all three major consoles so that I could experience Nintendo’s adventures, the epic Play Station exclusives, and my favorite cooperative Halo and Gears games. You’ve maybe seen my 1000 Club details on my home page, so you can probably tell 2005 until now have been some busy times with gaming.

I’ll hit some of the series highlights from 2005 to 2012, but I’ve seen games such as Resident Evil 4, Time Splitters 3, Doom 3, Gears of War, Resistance, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Bioshock, Portal, Uncharted, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead, Mirror’s Edge, Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, Borderlands, Dragon Age, Infamous, Fallout 3, Ghost Recon, Halo 3, The Witcher, and Alan Wake come to prominence. Now, a lot of this modern day stuff is probably going to be a retread for those of you reading if you know anything about or play games yourself.

For the past four or five years, I’ve toned down my gaming a lot and yet I’ve still somehow found time to enjoy epic adventures and massive undertakings. We’ve been treated to plenty of Telltale’s adventure sagas, the continuation of Killzone, reboots of excellent series such as Devil May Cry and Tomb Raider, the explosion of Call of Duty and Battlefield onto the near future scene, moving experiences such as The Last of Us, gore and glee in Sniper Elite, crazy multiplayer matchups between Titanfall and Destiny, touching indie projects, long anticipated sequels for Fallout and Metal Gear, and even new consoles. It’s been a lengthy trip and sometimes I still think last year is 2010 or 2011 and yet here we are all the way in 2017 and man I feel old.

I think some of my most meaningful experiences over the years have stemmed from my favorite titles like Myst, Zork II, Tomb Raider, Halo, and The Witcher. I’m a fan of plenty of genres and thanks to that fact I can enjoy a plethora of different experiences for entirely different reasons. Dark adventure tales, tales of sacrifice, blood and guts, frenetic racing, text adventures, backflipping for days- you name it and I’ve probably enjoyed it. As it stands, gaming isn’t my life and yet it has certainly always been a big part and will continue to be. As little time as I necessarily have to dedicate to it right now between life calling my name, responsibilities to my friends and family, and outside influences- it will always be a factor to me.

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