This lady helps bring validation to my guilty pleasure.
I am sure it would be an easy guess to assume that I enjoy playing video games. I don’t like to discuss them too much to bring up game references into philosophical discussions because I do not wish to be defined by the games that I enjoy playing. My wife doesn’t necessarily understand my affection for games, but she does like to see me happy, so she purchased the recently released 007 Goldeneye for the Nintendo Wii that I had expressed a few times (not so subtly) that I might enjoy playing. I first gaming experiences growing up were on my brother’s and my Super Nintendo. I remember my parents forcing us to raise funds and purchase the consul ourselves, a big feat for a couple of elementary school kids. (Fortunately, she did exchange our coins for larger bills at the bank just prior to the actual purchase) I think this was the best possible introduction to games I could have, as it taught a truly cooperative gaming experience. As the equipment belonged to the both of us, we almost never had the opportunity to play alone. Nearly every game we purchased was geared towards the multi-player experience and we got exceptionally good at Super Mario Kart and Yoshi’s Cookie.
Our next step was again a shared purchase where we flipped to the Sony Playstation. Again with joint ownership comes advanced cooperative play with slightly better graphics and analog joysticks, we were untouchable in Spec. Ops. Stealth Patrol. It was nearing the end of high school for me and the world of computer games opened up. From 9th – 12th grade I was propped up night after night in the uncomfortable wooden chair positioned in front of our aging CRT monitor conquering one civilization after another in Age of Empires. This experience led to the event that I believe sparked my interest in computers and my love of technology: After my neighbor had installed a broken copy of his Command and Conquer game onto my computer I attempted to remove all remnants of the game from the hard drive and in the process managed to remove the command file from the computer. For those who may not know the implications of a computer without a command file in the hands of an inexperienced high schooler – we were without a computer for several days as the “professionals” attempted to recover some functionality to the machine. After this I went on to learn about dissecting and trouble shooting computer hardware issues from the same person who rescued our family from the command file issue.
During college I fell away from consul gaming altogether, a decision made by financial restrictions more than personal preference. I had to purchase a shiny new powerful laptop to handle complex computer modeling software required as part of the curriculum. I discovered the chief advantage for computer gaming is the accuracy of first person shooters. Call of Duty, Counter Strike, Half-Life 2, Crysis. It was about the time Crysis came out when I realized the chief disadvantage of computer gaming is the necessity of frequent hardware upgrades to retain the ability to operate the most recent games.
To bring this lengthy summation full circle, the first consul I owned since the original Playstation is the Wii, (and that was only because I was able to leverage the appeal for many demographic groups to my wife, the non-gamer). What I think a lot of people don’t understand about the casual gamer is the actual appeal of the game. Once a player becomes familiar with the controls and the in-game movements become like second nature playing a game is like reading a create your own adventure book where you get to make decisions that affect the story line and at least have the illusion of dictating the speed and plot of the story. As games become more immersive and gain credibility as a legitimate art form the story line becomes more like playing your way through an interactive movie.
I still enjoy games, primarily multi-player games and first person campaigns during the winter months which is why I enjoy so much the memories of youthful friendships strengthened over group Duck Hunt sessions and N64 split-screen Goldeneye paintball matches.