A few days ago, I was contacted by someone from Man Crates. Now this is something that appeals to my own sense of neanderthal goodness. Think about this, a wooden crate you need to open with a crowbar, they are uniquely gifts for men. Is there anything more manly than that? I can hear myself grunting in joyful glee the boy and I open it to unveil its content. I had heard of them before, someone sent me their information - as a gag - but as I watched it, I realized the genius of the idea. You can't hear it now, but I've been grunting happily just thinking about it.
But back to the topic, so I was asked to share my experience as a video gamer: what memories did they conjure? what images come to mind? associative thoughts. Although I consider myself more of a tabletop gamer than video gamer, but the opportunity to first reminisce then write other types of gaming I talk about a lot less.
My love affair with video games started long, long ago, it started years before The Citadel of Chaos was placed in my hands. Here is my story, telling the story of three of my favorite games: my first console game, my favorite PC game, and my first MMO.
A- Console Gaming
In that era known as the early 80s, at time where five pixels would form a star ship. Or a submarine. Or an airplane. Or a Tennis player. The box covers of the cartridges fired our imaginations more than what we saw on our TV.
In the era of the Atari 2600 and the Intellivision, my parents gave my brother and I a ColecoVision. At the time, it was the best system out there, with games that were innovative and in general much clearer that the four pixels our friends had.
We played hours upon hours of Cosmic Avenger and Looping, both of them side-scrollers where you took a ship or a plane through mazes. "Looping" I particularly liked, and I remembered that we used to flip the controller upside-down to navigate the narrow mazes. One game we got later that I played a lot of was called Fortune Builder, a predecessor to SimCity, you had to build your town and make it prosper. One thing it had that SimCity didn't have until later version: ski resort. Part of the map - you always played on the same maps - was a set of high mountains where you could put slopes and see pixels "ski" down them. It was insanely hard to make consistent money.
We used to play downstairs on the old black and white TV. That place was cold: Canadian winters and my mother kept the house at 68' in the summer, so colder downstairs. We would wrap ourselves in blankets hiding the controllers inside our cocoons decked out in our Montreal Canadiens jerseys listening to the game my father watched upstairs. (Go Habs Go, btw)
When my cousins would come over with their own games, we huddled around the small screen, which couldn't have been any bigger than 10 or 11 inches. We munched on chips and cheese puffs, which made the controllers absolutely nasty but none of us was willing to give up his turn.
My brother and I went through two or three power cords, forcing my dad to get another with surprising regularity.
B- PC Gaming
I was in high school when I next got into a video game that really took my time away. It was around 1989-90, Marc-P, a buddy of mine introduced me to this game call "Pirates!" for the PC. Wow! Love at first sight! I first spent hours playing the game, and through it, learned the geography of Caribbeans and led me a love affair with the period that lasts to this day. I scoured the high seas, plundering. One of my characters had a life of adventure that spanned for more than thirty-five in-game years (quite a feat).
Pirates! was clearly a driving factor in my love affair with history, a love affair that influences my writing to this day.
I played this game late into the night, for hours on end, drinking the teas my mother brought back from England, jerky, muffins or whatever I could smuggle up into my room, for the PC, unlike the consoles, was upstairs in my bedroom. Food was strictly disallowed by my mother, but I smuggled some snacks once in a while.
For years, I stayed away from MMOs, calling them time-sinks and money-sinks (both of which I can't say are false). However, my biggest issue was the subscription model which I understood but did not have the disposable income to spend on it. Then one day, a friend told me that Guild Wars only had a fee to buy the game and it was free to play.
I played that game for a long time and having become old and diagnosed with diabetes, kept a big jar of pecans or peanuts (I varied the flavors). I filled the cap and munched one at a time as I quested across the world. From Guild Wars, I have since moved to other games: D&D Online, DC Universe Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Then again - as now - I wrapped myself in a Denver Broncos blankets.
Video games have always been part of my life, from the early days of playing in the basement to the man cave of today. I even introduced my kids to playing on the X-Box. Good thing: the old man is still better than they are at NHL, but they are improving. The 10-0 is now 4-2.
DAMN YOU, OLD AGE!!!
TLDR: What I associate with each of the above:
A - cheese puffs, soda pop, music by early Bryan Adams, a throw blanket
B - jerky, chips, muffins, loose-leaf tea, music by Genesis or Rush, a throw blanket
C - nuts (particularly pecans and peanuts), music by Iron Maiden or Sonata Arctica, a throw blanket