Over the past few weeks there have been many a blog post and articles about why people game.
There always seem to be controversy each and every week when it comes to gaming. If it isn’t a politician or prominent ‘celeb’ condemning gaming for raising violent psychopaths; then it is a sexism storm like the recent ‘gamer-gate’.
We at MrLuvvaLuvva love gaming and we want to celebrate it in anyway we can. So follow me through my gaming life; and why I still find time to lose myself in unique and immersive worlds.
My love affair with gaming dates back to the late eighties (man i feel old) when my dad brought home an Atari 2600 and a copy of ‘Pac-man’ for my brother and I to enjoy.
And enjoy it we did; we played that game so much our Atari’s power supply caught fire…no word of a lie, it got so warm it emitted smoke and the Atari lost power. It was that moment I knew that i was losing myself to this new fangled ‘gaming’ malarky and I really haven’t looked back.
In the beginning…
‘Pac-man’ was only the beginning for me, my dad replaced the Atari’s power supply and returned with several new games for us to enjoy…classics such as ‘Yars Revenge’ and ‘Atari Combat’ kept us gaming for a good few months. In all honesty, aside from ‘Pac-Man’ i don’t have many fond memories of the Atari-era, I was a bit too young.
Over the course of the next few years however this would change, memories would be made in a number of avenues in gaming.
As kids there was one relative we would always look forward to visiting. He always had the latest tech; my uncle was a techoholic! He would literally buy everything that was new and semi-useful.
In the late 80’s he would purchase a ‘Spectrum Home Computer’. Well this just blew my brother and I’s minds…such a massive leap forward from the Atari and we were bitten by the upgrade bug. We had to have one of these home computer systems.
In the end Dad capitulated and bought us the ‘Amstrad CPC-464’. It was here that things got serious.
My brother got games from friends at school; games like ‘Jet Set Willy’, ‘Chiller’, ‘Robocop’, ‘Roland on the Ropes’ and ‘Star Wars’. These games were crazy good, sure it took 10-20 minutes to load them. Sure it may have taken several goes to get them to load…but when they did it was glorious. Many an hour was lost trying to fly our X-Wing through the wire-frame trench; we were being absorbed into worlds so flamboyant and amazing we didn’t care that it was quickly becoming obsolete. My Dad cared though….
Phase two, initiated…
Again, our uncle was on top of the technology thing…he bought himself a NES and once again; our jealousy kicked in…we had to have these game worlds. The Amstrad was beginning to look decidedly old-hat next to (then) sleek and sexy grey plastic of the NES.
Not to be outdone dad got us a Master System with ‘Wanted’, a light gun, ‘Fantasy Zone’ and ‘Alex Kidd in Miracle Land’. I had a note book of maps for ‘Alex Kidd’ and the patterns for the bosses (they all challenged you to a game of rock, paper, scissors). However there was something on the horizon…a blue blur that would create gamers out of us.
1991 was a year that we had to upgrade again…while ‘Sonic the Hedgehog was good on the Master System it had been designed for the Mega Drive. Unfortunately our dad had decided that he had spent enough on games consoles and games over the years and told us we’d have to wait for Santa.
Christmas came and went, no Mega Drive. Disappointment haunted all our dreams.
Feburary was my older brother’s 16th birthday, he found himself the owner of a Mega Drive and ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’…joyous. The first and last time someone else’s birthday felt like my own! We played Sonic to death over the next few months.
In an example of universal serendipity a store called AGES opened in town – you could play games in store for 20p or rent them for £1 a day. Games were no longer a birthday/christmas treat. They became regular occurances.
The next few years are a blur of games, rented, borrowed and bought. ‘Road Rash’, ‘Sonic 2’, ‘Streets of Rage’, ‘Golden Axe’, ‘Mega-lo-mania’ and many many other classic titles were played in our house. At all hours. By us, our friends and our extended family. Games were truly a centre-piece to our childhood and boy did they capture us.
We could be anything we wanted, go to worlds that could never exist and be heroes – we lost ourselves in these games, that’s why we played them…escapism was the prime reason we played, we were truly gods in our own game worlds.
It was this era that arcades were something very special. Every year we’d go on a seaside holiday and every year i would spend all my money on coke, stinger bars and Konami scrolling beat’em’ups (well maybe i kept just enough money to ride on the sizzler and other fairground rides too). Chase HQ was another game in the arcades that was great and of course the light gun games. I felt so grown up with people behind watching me play TMNT or the Simpsons and I was pretty good too.
Is this enough?
1995 came around, my Uncle had fallen out of love with gaming. We had been given his old gameboy and a few titles, we enjoyed them alright; gaming on the go was cool and all but I had my eye on something…a little more…advanced.
‘SEGA Power!’ magazine had been drowning their publication with adverts for the ‘next generation’ of gaming…the SEGA Saturn. I needed that! My Christmas list that year consisted of that one thing. santa had never let me down before. He wouldn’t start now.
Luckily for me, Santa must’ve also been a gamer! There was no Saturn under the tree but there was a ‘Sony Playstation’, a copy of ‘Ridge Racer’ and ‘Demo One’. The next few years are a blur of polygons, Lara Croft, explosions, Ollies and new experiences.
My playstation years are full of fond memories (no surprise if you’ve read my gaming retrospectives) and they shaped me into the gamer i am today.
I became accustomed to trying new games, and playing what i normally wouldn’t – i really enjoyed J-RPGS and disliked shooters, i love fighting games but not platformers. The best part of the Playstation years was the jealousy our uncle felt that we had one and he didn’t – we won that generation.
The late ’90s were dominated by the shadow of Ultima Online; i lost more hours than i’d care to divulge here. However the MMORPG genre didn’t take me after the games death – the world of Britannia was unique and the community was exceptionally good (and is a feeling i hope i get from Shroud of the Avatar).
These tastes i fostered here would change with my acquisition of the Dreamcast, the Gameboy Advance, Xbox and finally the Gamecube. Over these years I didn’t game as much, I was working and studying for A-Levels so whilst I bought games a lot, i was playing a little. When i did play it was Halo and other games I would never have touched a few years prior. That’s basically because they became more mainstream and available.
My Gaming lull would last until the day i saw Gears of War.
Bringing it back…
‘Gears of War’ was a massive jump forward from anything I had played the previous generation. I had to have a 360! I bought one on the release date of GoW; along it with a copy of GoW, Crackdown and project Gotham 3. It was amazing. I was bitten by the bug once again…over the next few years i would spend a crazy amount of money on games and peripherals (including 2 sets of rock band instruments). Gaming had never been so good; or frankly as affordable.
The big jump in this generation was my move online, Halo was unlike anything else, it was fast, frenetic and competitive – it was blisteringly good and I was hooked. GoW was hilariously bugged online and it supplied me with a fun few weeks. The biggest game this gen was undoubtedly Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – the online was superlative and addictive I lost months to this game (ironically i never got good at it).
Now I am gaming on PC and PS4 and I do not regret anything I have spent on my hobby.
I often get asked by colleagues why I game. I always reply with the same answer – it allows me to be what i want and do what i wish; in one day i can travel to the moon, then to mars, then to another reality that is different from our own. I can experience anything from driving a high spec car to saving a planet…I love getting lost in narratives and playing through games making my own stories.
Gaming is accessible; it is (mostly) cheap and it is better than ever…please forget all the negative press and play on.
Why do you game?
How have you ended up here?
Please share your stories in the comment section – we’d love to hear them!