Friendships forged in video games – Part 1

The inspiration behind my last blog post (my gaming life) was born of reading Cary’s post on the exact same topic; and also because I wanted to remind my readers that gaming can be a good influence on people and that we should remember the fun times we’ve had in front of a console/PC.

It was a post that I loved writing and wish that I could’ve went into more stories about my gaming life…so this week is going to be ‘I heart gaming week’. Let’s kick it off by looking at the connections i’ve made in my life through gaming.

I heart gaming

Every time I take a trip down memory lane there is one recurring theme, video games seemed to be ever present in my good memories. Time spent with family, friends and even complete strangers. Many of the relationships I have today started life; or were cemented by videogames. Here is just a few such stories.

Resident Evil.

An unlikely place to start; but ‘Resident Evil’ created such a strong friendship between me and one of my friends that even today, when I load up a Resident Evil game I am transported back to 1996 into my friends bedroom as we prepared to play the game that mothers tried to ban. We were both far too young to play this game (i was 13, he was 12) but he had somehow convinced his Dad to purchase this game for him. August 1st was the first of many sleepovers that month.

I’ll never forget those first, tentative, steps into the Spencer mansion, first contact with the zombies or the window bursting dogs. We screamed together, we had to take many ‘pause breaks’ together because we were so scared; but we braved through the first few hours and became hooked. We took it in turns on the controller and made it to the end of the game in that one night. It was glorious.

On school Monday morning we talked to some older boys about the game who had beaten it and we realised that they had a different ending to us and we knew we had to see their ending too. Another weekend spent in a darkened bedroom scaring ourselves silly. That friendship was bolstered by our love of schlock horror and being frightened…we thought that friendship would never end…just as the directors cut landed my family moved to another town…surely the friendship couldn’t last that. We vowed to stay in touch with letters (ah the days before mobile phones and facebook). And we did; we would only see each other once more until…

Silent Hill.

Resident Evil 2 had come my friend invited me down for the weekend so we could complete it…1999 rolled round and I had secured an American copy of ‘Silent Hill’ and I knew of the one person in the world who I should play through this game with…I called him (technology had moved beyond snail mail) and he was allowed to come stay with us for the weekend. The plan was start ‘Silent Hill’ on Friday after WWF and not stop until we saw the credits roll…great plan.

It was terrifying. No-one told us it would be on another level from ‘Resident Evil’. My God it was terrifying to play this game. I’ll never forget the moment we decided that we had to sleep. 4 a.m. my friend and I were trying to get through the school section when we heard the front door open and heavy footsteps coming up the stairs…needless to say our imaginations got the better of us and we were in a cold sweat – which of Hell’s monsters was it coming to claim our souls?

It was my Dad coming home from work. We couldn’t face the horror of ‘Silent Hill’ after that.

The next day with a new perspective we ventured back; I say new perspective what I really mean is it was bright. We got stuck at one of ‘Silent Hills’ many illogical puzzles (the piano in the school) and; being pre-internet days we had no walk-through to consult. We decided we had to break the rules.

Our house phone was off limits (in fact it had an out-going call bar) and we were not meant to use it; but Mum and Dad were out, I had acquired the code through nefarious means and we really needed to get past that damned piano. We had to ring a games hotline – it was expensive (£2.50 a minute) but we knew what we were looking for and would be quick…it wasn’t quick, my friend kept an eye on the door and I frantically pushed numbers to get to the solution – sweating in case my parents came home, finally we got our solution; making a scrambled mess of notes we could proceed with the game. We did beat it that weekend; twice, we had to witness the UFO ending – a high five was order of the day and we played some WCW vs NWO: World Tour.

As we returned to the console my parent’s came home with shopping; ignorant to the fact I had just cost them £20. That phone call cost me a week of freedom and my pocket money until I paid it back, but my God it was worth it.

Mortal Kombat.

In the days of the Mega Drive and SNES games; generally, were not gory at all, they were rather colourful and full of enemy robots. My older brother and I were pretty close growing up, we would always be playing football or recording our own WWF home shows and what ever. We were close, but 1992 an event would happen that would make us very close, so much so he’d let me play football with his friends…that’s a big deal! High school kids would want to play football with me.

The release of Mortal Kombat was that event. We’d had a Mega Drive but it had broke just a little time before that…we had to do something. We got together and forged a plan; the classic pincer movement, i’d play my Mum and he’d tackle my Dad. We HAD to get them to allow us to get a new Mega Drive. It took weeks of hounding them both and a stroke of luck, in the paper there was a cheap Mega Drive and collection of games for sale, including Mortal Kombat! Mum and Dad sat us down and told us that this would be the only thing we get until Christmas (it  was June) and we agreed, we even gave up pocket money…but we had Mortal Kombat.

Getting it was so exciting we eagerly connected it to our bedroom TV (CRT of course, 14 inches) and started to punch each others faces in, blood everywhere (in our minds; in reality it’s pretty tame) dad then came in to see the new Mega Drive…mistake. He was shocked at the blood and said it was too gory for me (i was 9); it was not to be played by me.

Again we had to combine forces; he begged Dad (after all who else was going to play it with him?) and I begged Mum (I wanted to be the only one of my friends playing this). It was fruitless. A few days later my Mum cracked, she allowed us to play ‘Mortal Kombat’ but only when Dad was at work, and we had to have homework done before he came home too. That deal was a good one because we could play football together and that was also cool.

Well that’s it for today, we’ll look at three more relationships that video games improved/created on Thursday.

Until then why not leave a comment on relationships that video games helped create in your life?

Together we can make gaming a hobby to be proud of again.

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