It's time to be serious guys. I write this post with a question in mind: "For what reason do we play the games we play?".
For me, it started a long time ago, when I was barely old enough to put sentences together coherently. There was a time when everything around me was a cataclysm of anger and stress, of betrayal and despair, of losing and leaving the world I had known to another I had never seen or even thought existed.
My little bubble of a world had been the four corners of my room, in which the most interesting thing was the cherrios cover for my light switch. I distinctly remember staring at that thing for what I thought was a long time (back then it was probably no more that 5 minutes, a significant amount of time for a two year old). Other than that, I had lost who I thought was a mother, and had felt what I can only describe as a looming sense of dread and intensity which I now know the cause of. So it wasn't exactly the greatest or most fun time of my life.
It was within this brief but influential time that I first played a video game, and it was a video game which was based on my favourite show at the time: Power Rangers.
Now, this show really needs no introduction. It was THE show. Rita Repulsa, Lord Zed, that goo guy, all of em getting their butts handed to em by a bunch of high schoolers who were part of that whole Karate thing back in the 80's I take it, and were all trasformed into super-awesome spandex wearing ninja's by a disembodied....uh... face.... in a... vat/tube/thing. Yeah Zordon, your awesome.
I have yet to find this game, I search for it, but to no avail. It seemed like a power rangers RPG of some sort, yet it is IMPOSSIBLE to find. Which is too bad because I seem to remember it to be awesome. Absolutely AWESOME.
Another game I remember is Bonanza Brothers. Gods, slamming open the door whilst your partner was directly on the other side and turning your friend (or brother) into a pancake was the funniest thing ever, and still is pretty funny today.
After that, things moved VERY fast. The storm clouds that had formed around Greenville, South Carolina (the place where I was living at that time, though I wasn't born there. I was born in Kingston, Ontario. I am 100% Canadian, but I am also American) burst. It isn't my place to say what exactly happened. What I will say is that my father is one of the most powerful men I have ever known, in willpower, in strength, in intelligence... Hell, in all aspects of life. He has been through Hell, and for the sake of my brother and I. Reality does indeed have superhuman people, and my father is definitely one of them. What he went through to get me to where I am is no less than a Herculean Feat of Strength.
But enough about that. What this rapid movement lead to was me living in sugar shacks and (unbenownst to me and my brother) welfare. I remember playing on my dad's REALLY old computer, playing a game that started with those red lines, those red and white bars which kinda looked like a curtain. The game, again, I can't remember which, was a space game, where you played as a commando. The coolest move I remember was NOT going up the stairs, and instead going BEHIND THEM. Unlike Bonanza Bro's, which was really pushing the 3D barrier, this game was completely 2D, so not going up something ahead of me BLEW MY MIND.
After that, things got pretty standard, I played Sonic, then Sonic 2, then Sonic 3, then Sonic and Knuckles, AND THEN, I put the first three into S&K to play as knuckles in em! So much fun.
But my most cherished game from the Sega era was not Sonic, but rather, it was Toy Story.
Toy Story at that time was the hardest game I had ever played. It was also by far my favourite movie. I hated the claw... hated it... with a passion. After failing to save Buzz SO MANY TIMES, and losing after going through all of that SO MANY TIMES, I started to hate seeing the claw in the movie as well. We have since reconciled, since I have recently gone back and utterly embarrassed the claw with my... ahem... better experience with games.
I loved that game because of its difficulty, but also because of its charm. The world of Toy Story has to be one of the most endearing worlds ever created. From the Clouds in the Sky wallpaper, to the bleak and rundown look of Sid's room, that movie will always, ALWAYS, bring me to a different world which I enjoy, and the game was no different.
The game had swinging, it had monkeys in a box, it had RC parts, it had Rex riding, Buzz chopping, alien throwing awesomeness that I still think is awesome.
Also, it was the first game which I discovered an awesome bug, in which Woody gets unlimited life (but unfortunately, not unlimited continues.)
From here, I played other games, my family moved to New Wesminister, where I started going to school. Now, for those of you that don't know New West, its very pretty. Got lots of nice trees, and a cool park... But it is also full of really weird people. Luckily we moved quickly.
It was within the three-odd years of New West that I was introduced to a number of games, and consoles. I was introduced to Mario, Link, Samus and all of the classic characters that we all know and love. I remember when Ocarina of Time first came out. HOW EPIC IT WAS. well, it still is epic, but it was a new kind of epic back then. Back then, it was so epic, that the silvercity in metropolis had stalls which you could play it in. Yeah, EPIC.
That was also the place where I played Megaman Legends, arguably the BEST megaman game I've played. People will disagree I know, some people just don't dig that whole "Bonne" thing, or the whole "Got to find the mother load" thing. Or the fact that Megaman isn't Rockman, but rather, Megaman something or other. Still, I thought it was awesome. I liked the music. And the gameplay. And the charm.
This was also where I first played Metal Gear Solid. Funny enough, I convinced my dad to buy it for me after I told him that the manual of the game claimed it to be the best game ever made. It worked. A lot of the stuff that was said in the game flew right over my head. But after a while, I started to understand it. Metal Gear taught me a lot about the world. About smoking and how, though it is really really bad for you, it can help you spot deadly lazers of doom. It taught me that an M1 tank can be taken down by throwing a few well placed grenades into the machine gunners hole. It also taught me about... a lot of other stuff. It was awesome, nuff said.
But, again, there are games which stand out amongst the crowd. MGS, OoT are some of them, but the earlier generations deserve some highlights as well. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is one of my favourite games of all time. Never have I loved another Mario game more than Mario RPG, and the other attempts to copy the formula have been.... good efforts at best.
The other classic game which I nostalgically miss is Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. This, to be completely honest, was the first game that I actually beat completely. I had never actually beaten a game before Yoshi's Island, and I can still remember all of the best parts. The part where you turn Satanical Santa's into giant eggs of christmasy doom is a highlight.
Then, we moved again. To Delta. And Delta, while not NEARLY as weird as New West was, didn't really give me a stalwart impression on humanity. School was horrible. I, as a person who has ADD, was always... inattentive. I could never figure out what was going on, what I was doing wrong, or how to improve. It was a vicious cycle. Actually, to be completely honest, Elementary School in general was Hell and a half.
It was here that I got an X-Box, and it was here that I played Halo. It was here that I learned about pirating games, the epically awesome story that is Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. It was here that I learned that you can't play certain games on a chipped console. And it was here that I lost a lot of stuff.
That part of my life had little influence on who I am today. The video games, like Soul Reaver and Halo, gave me interesting stories to rap my head around. As a note on ADD, those of us who have it have a constantly thinking mind. It ALWAYS thinks, always has SOMETHING there, and it isn't like a lullaby, or a silent thought, no, we have day dreams constantly going through our minds one after another. So complicated stories give us the stimulous we need to go about the day attentive. Its kinda counter intuitive, but hey, ain't life grand?
On a side note: Those who think that ADD doesn't exist, or have some sort of opinion on how it doesn't really affect things... well, they can go shove it. I live with it, I know what it does. I feel the effects, and I had to endure a long time of suffering because of it. Arguments that focus on my intelligence, or my ability to succeed, or my currently existing achievments do not understand that it is not what I possess that I worry about, it's what I DON'T possess. People think that the special pill, whether it be Ritalin, Adderall or Concerta, changes your mind into some sort of machine, and think that it makes us intelligent. They think its cheating. They.... are morons. I have the intelligence already, one can just look at other people who have been diagnosed with ADD, take the pill and are still morons to see that. So it isn't the pill that makes us intelligent, and it definitely isn't the pill that gives us drive. It's us.
This leads me to another part of my life. Fast forward a few years (nothing really happened in between these years) to Grade 9. In Grade 9, I was introduced to another one of my favourite games: Prince of Persia.
This game blew my mind so harsh that I think there are still temporal chucks on the moon just, floating around (saying "im in space!"). I mean, it's got awesome combat, parkour, time travel, monsters, demons, evil sorcerers, hot girls, incredible music, awesome comedy, serious undertones, innovative gameplay, interesting characters, ALL IN ONE GAME, AND THERE IS STILL MORE! The ones after it were kinda crap, but Sands of Time is still one of my favourite games ever!
After that, I lost my console. To myself. I played too much, and my grades began to suffer for it. They weren't good, but then again, they were never good before that either. They were just... mega bad here. So, I lost them, and haven't had a console ever since.
There was a year I played no games, didn't play at all. To me, it was like drug withdrawal. It was pretty intense. I was so addicted to games at that time it was horrible. My lifestyle was decrepit, my brain was moving at a sluggish pace, and Gr.10 is still highlighted as one of the most difficult years of my entire life.
But that..... was the last time I ever felt that way, and the cleansing brought something new, something powerful from me, something I didn't even know I had: Drive. We have to make a slight detour here for a second.
During the summer of Gr. 9, I worked at a place called Shady Island, with a boss who could speak 4 words of english, all of which were swear words. Then he learned "GODDAM BOY" and... well you get the picture. That was a pretty intense time as well, as I was pretty much thrown into the proverbial fire of the workforce, and was massacred by the way it was run. Bearing in mind, the job I was in was TERRIBLE, but at the time, I didn't know it. I was a horrible employee, and I learnt the hard way how to lose a job... twice.
That changed. In the summer of Gr.10, just before Gr.11, I worked at Shady Island again. The boss, Andy, needed an extra guy, and because I had experience, he gave me the job again. I was thankful for this, though, the first half of the summer was still pretty rough.
Then.... something happened. I don't know what... I might've had a dream.... or a vision.... or an epiphany of some kind. Whatever it was, I turned into a HARD worker. A fantastic worker. I worked harder than I had ever worked in my entire life. I was doing everything right, organized, making things work right, doing things the right way and then perfecting them so that I could do them better. I was starting something powerful, which only got better.
Now remember, I still don't have Video Games at this time, and the relapse into it, now that I think about it, might not have been too good of a choice. Nevertheless, this allowed me to enter into Gr.11 with a WHOLE new attitude.
And it showed. During that year I accomplished all the things I needed to to put me where I am today. I became an organizational powerhouse. My room was so organized and so perfect that it would take a ninja to go in there without me knowing. I got my first A, then another one. By the end of the year, I had gone from a C to C- average student to a straight A student. This, my friends, is the power of drive.
And also why the whole "your smarter when you take Adderal" crap is stupid. I took concerta from Gr.8 to 10, and I was still a C to C- average student. You know why I got straight A's? Determination, willpower and intelligence, that's how. Yeah, I got ADD. Yeah, people see that as a disability. But I've gotten WAY better grades than people that DON'T have ADD and ridiculed me for having it throughout the years! HOW DO THOSE BASTARDS LIKE DEM APPLES EH?!
Anyway, epic rant over, on to more game discussion. It should be noted that, Gr.11 wasn't just a year of profound intellectual and spiritual growth, but also an expansion of game base. It was during this year that I finally got a computer worthy of playing a game other than Lego Island. And what did I buy first? Well, honestly, I got Dawn of War first, WHICH WAS AWESOME. Then, I got another computer because of... well, a good deal to be completely honest. My brother got the one I had, and I got a mega computer (at the time).
The first game I got that really influenced me here was Sins of a Solar Empire, which is a fantastic game that everyone who even remotely likes RTS's should play.
Then there is Call of Duty, ditto.
But the mack daddy of the game's I played was not one game, but rather a collection of games. Yup, you guessed it. I'm talking of none other than The Orange Box.
Half Life 2 is a game I have played... maybe 5 times over.... completely. Yes, I like it that much. Its inspiring because it had a look that reminded me of the beauty of the concrete jungle. That, mixed with a killer soundtrack, amazing gameplay, Ravenholm (probably one of the spookiest levels EVER), the gravity gun, Dog and the amazing cast of characters puts that game definitely in my favourites.
MASSIVELY HUGE EDIT TO SAVE CONFUSION:
It's time to finish this thing.
SO, there were many games that came out during that year, and many games which I wanted to play and had yet to play by the time I got that awesome computer. One of these games was Bioshock, and to be quite honest, it wasn't as mindblowing as it might have been to the rest of you.
Now, this isn't because it wasn't mindblowing, it isn't even because it was bad. No, this is because the HUGE FUCKING TWIST was spoiled for me before I got there. Yeah, damn.
Another huge thing which I forgot to mention was my foray into horror games, which was completely random and unexpected.
Let me explain: I, for YEARS, was horrified of zombies. HORRIFIED! The boogeyman was not something that hid under the bed, no, it was a shambling, flesh-eating creature of doom.
I blame Resident Evil 1. I was 7. That first scene, where that one guy is getting eaten by the zombie, and you walk in and are like "woah, sorry to interrupt" and the zombie's like "Dude, what the fuck are you doing here"... yeah, that scene. FREAKED THE SHIT OUT OF ME. Now, as you can see, it is funny as hell. And you know why.
One game: F.E.A.R.
F.E.A.R. taught me something I will never forget, something that I carry with me to this day. That the shotgun is your friend, and that horror games are kinda theraputic.
Now your going, "Dude, he's crazy. Horror games? Theraputic? Did you somehow fall out of the Clive Barker mind of insanity or something?" No, not exactly.
It was funny at first. F.E.A.R presented the most terrifying experience in gaming I had ever been through at the time (now, Amnesia takes the cake, wait no, IT TAKES THE BAKERY), and there are a few scenes that still give me shivers... but I could still play it. I wasn't frightened of it.
It got to the point where I would just make it a big joke. Thing would be funny instead of scary. I'd poke fun at Alma because she got really ugly, really fast. I would insult the teleporter dudes because they were going spaz attack. But, before I got there, I had to see how shooting them in the chin and sticking them to the ceiling with the nail gun was awesome and hilarious first.
So yeah, it was F.E.A.R that brought me there. After that, nothing could really scare me. Some people think that Dead Space is scary. It's startling for sure. There are times where you jump, and times where you go "that is fucking creepy as hell" (Like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", creepiest rendition EVER), but at the end of the day, you aren't scared of it, your just... enjoying the experience.
It was during this time (this is Gr.12 now) that I got my first girlfriend. She was fantastic, and it was great. Not much to be said other than it was a long distance sort of thing (the distance between Deep Cove and Richmond is pretty major), and... it didn't work out. But I started seeing the truth to some portrayals of love, and how I had not really gotten there yet.
During this time, I played a large collection of games. Mirrors Edge, Crysis, Portal, Fallout 3, Double Agent, Spore... the list goes on. It was a pretty major crush of games. And I was balancing the girlfriend and school. Needless to say, it was difficult. But I managed.
But not enough. I didn't get the GPA I needed to get to UBC, which was a bummer, and my ultimate goal WAS TO GO THERE. So, I felt like I didn't have that drive anymore, that speed, power, determination, whatever you want to call it, I didn't feel like I had it anymore. So, out of my own choice, I asked my parents for a Mac, and for my PC to be burned... forever.
AANNNDDD... that didn't work out so well. First of all, the Mac was a bad choice. I was eventually going to play games, and as a barrier, it was a stupidly expensive one. It could play indie games fine, and some newer games at crappy settings, but other than that, it was useless. I played some great flash games at that time.
WOAH. I totally forgot about flash games. Holy. HUGE GAP. Ok. Start from the top. Uh.... you know what, different post. It's too big to start here.
Anyway, some great flash games at the time. Bodilies comes to mind, and Alice Is Dead, and a lot of AustinBreed stuff. Yeah, it's artsy. Yeah, its deep. But its interesting.
I also got addicted to WoW. Go figure.
Anyway, NOW, I have real computer. One that actually does... stuff.... well.
Right now, I just went through Dead Space 2. WHICH IS FANTASTIC. Play it, even if your scared of these things. Bring a utility blanket or something. It's great. And seriously, just know that half the time, you'll KNOW somethings going to happen, and expect it. When you don't, just forget about it, kill it, feel awesome that you just grabbed it's own arm and impaled it with it and move on. Its that awesome... I mean, simple.
Also, Mass Effect 2. It's awesome. I still need to do Renegade shep, which I'm working through ME1 right now as a woman with.
So yeah, this is my life through gaming. It's long, its complex. It's real. Feel free to share your stories (As I see that some of you have) as I am interested to hear them!