1. I started Mass Effect yesterday.
2. I slept soundly.
3. I live in a free country.
I'm gonna let out my nerd a little today, so break out the tape for the middle of my glasses, and a protector for my pocket, because I just started Mass Effect (the first one), and it's made me think about how gaming has changed.
My first gaming experiences were probably before I can really remember. I'm told that my dad had an original Nintendo and that he played Mario... I think. I honestly don't remember playing it. I then remember when we got a Super Nintendo. I think it had been out for like three years before we got it. It took a lot of convincing, because my dad didn't want us waisting all of our time on it, but we eventually got it on my birthday. I say 'on' because my parents' made it VERY clear that just because we got it on my birthday, it did not mean it was just mine. It had the Mario five pack, which meant the original one, the second and third ones, Yoshi's Island, and one other one that escapes me now... I'm sure it'll come to me tonight after it's messed with me all day. We also Primal Rage (the giant apes and dinosaurs fighting game) and Mortal Combat. I eventually bought a cowboy shooting game (it was originally an arcade game) and a hockey game (not surprisingly). I played some, but not very often. I never really talked about what I played with anyone, because no one cared, and none of the games were really that impressive anyway.
Then, we got computer games. My dad works with computers, so we were one of the first families on my street to get one, and we got a fast one, because my dad knew what made them fast. We started out with Real-Time Strategy games. That means you make and control an army that goes and tries to take out another army. Popular ones are War Craft and Star Craft. Then I learned about Diablo. It was a great Hack and Slash (meaning you run through and hack and slash everything in your path) with a great story. After much discussion my dad finally bought it. He ended up liking it too, and so started my love for story telling in gaming, though I didn't understand just how much I would enjoy it yet. After that I got Baulder's Gate and Final Fantasy 7, both Role-Playing Games (meaning you play the role of a character and it takes you through a story). And I enjoyed both.
What I really didn't understand was how much I enjoyed them. See, great video games are like choose your own ending books on crack. It gives a great story and leads you through it in a way that you become part of it. I really hadn't played much up to this point. I did finish Diablo I and Baulder's Gate, and I almost finished Final Fantasy 7, but the length of the game turned out to be too much for me. And my love for gaming lay under the surface for years. It almost passed out of existence.
Then, on a day that my live in infamy in my wife's eyes forever, she let me buy an Xbox 360. I honestly had not owned a console since the Super Nintendo. We had bought the Wii, but it was mostly for her. I was suddenly, and unexpectedly thrown into a world of gaming that I didn't know existed. I found out that games were expensive, and because I have little money, I started doing my homework on games. I quickly found websites like Gamespot and ING that literally do nothing but talk about video games. They explain what makes one good, and why one really isnt' worth the twenty bucks. I also found that other people commented on video games. They gave their input. And, as with music and movies, I was suddenly able to explain, in words, why I liked a game. I knew I liked Diablo I, I knew I liked Baulder's Gate and Final Fantasy, but I didn't know why. Gamespot in particular, gave me the ability. I now talk with people about games all the time. I explain that I like action/adventure games and RPG's because they tend to have great stories. I say that Fall Out 3 worried me at first because it was a FPS (First Person Shooter) and I usually don't like those, but the story and RPG elements were too great to overlook. It then led me to try Mass Effect, which I'm really enjoying. I'm able to see game footage of Dungeon Siege III and see the similarities between it and Diablo I and it makes me want to play it.
And then, I look back at gaming fifteen years ago. I don't want to say we've 'come a long way,' because I don't know as we really have. We play a lot more now. We play because we want to talk to others about it. Games are made to satisfy very particular tastes, so you don't have to spend a lot of money to find the games that will last long and keep you entertained, but I don't know how much that's necessarily great. What I do know though, is that it gives me something to think and dream about. It keeps my imagination active, and gives me a reason to talk to people. I won't say Gaming is great, but I won't say it's horrible either. It's been good to me so far. Have a nice day.