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The Evolution of a Gamer: Part 1 – The Early Years

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Many of us are avid gamers. Some of us are new to the pastime, and others have been lifelong gamers.  A short while ago I was talking to someone who could not understand the enjoyment video games can evoke in someone, or even why someone would continue to play after they have ‘grown up’.

As I spoke to this person and talked about why I love video games and gaming in general it made me start thinking about my life as a gamer and how I became the passionate gamer I am.  This four-part series will look at how I became the nutball, Sony fanboy obsessive gamer I am.  As you read this, if you have similar thoughts or your own stories please add them to the comments.

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I have been an avid gamer since the early days of video games. I remember when I was about six years old playing Frogger on our wood paneled Atari 2600.  While I treasured my Atari I remember enjoying going to my cousin’s place because he had the newfangled ColecoVision.  He and I would play Zaxxon and Mr. Do! for hours on end.

As I got a little older (10 or so), the Videogame Crash of 1983 was in full swing. Does anyone remember the ET game? It was one of the catalysts of the crash. I had the game, and it was AWFUL.  With games on the decline and no real industry to speak of, my attention turned to sports (baseball and track), reading like mad (I was weird — I read Shakespeare, Arthurian myths and science books), drawing, and watching TV.

Games did not become a huge part of my life again until a few years later when my brother got a Super NES and I got a Sega Genesis.  I was about 15 and man was I hooked. This was the first major console war and my brother and I would often switch consoles for weeks on end so we could play each other's games.

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I have to say that overall I preferred the Super NES (who didn't?) because of my deep love of RPGs (and Final Fantasy 3 (called Final Fantasy 6 in Japan) in particular. However, I also played the heck out of other games. Shadowrun for the Genesis was amazing and a huge timesink for me, but FF3 was the ultimate game and my first video game obsession.

This game had a huge story, a great cast of characters, phenomenal graphics, and enough extras and side quests to choke a llama. It's funny; back then I used to play games in my bedroom, back against the wall facing the TV with music playing, and to this day when I hear The Odds – Good Weird Feeling album I can recall parts of the Shadowrun game. I must have listened to that CD a hundred times while playing that game. Isn't it funny how you associate sights and sounds together if they are paired enough times?

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Around this time I was also constantly playing Mortal Kombat 2 in the arcades, and my friend and I were masters at this game.  I had a 100% combo for Liu Kang and Mileena that would cause people to want to physically hurt me. It was always funny — we would go to the arcade with eight quarters (yes, games cost only a quarter back then) and play for hours. At the time the game was so popular that people were lining up to play it. I would start and play five to six people (and win), then my buddy would play and beat me (though sometimes not).  Then he would play five to six people, and then I would play him and win (sometimes), and so on. We were true Mortal Kombat masters.

The arcade and home consoles were a new outlet for me, a way to let go of the problems at home and school, a way to enjoy myself without any pressures.  I still read, drew and played sports, but I enjoyed immersing myself in these worlds and experiences.  Many of my inspirations for art and projects came from some of these worlds I was exploring.

To be continued in Part 2 – The Sony Era

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About Michael Prince

Looking at all things Geek - news, rants and updates from the worlds of gaming, tech, blu-ray, novels, and music.
  • Luis

    Cool article, hurry with “The Sony Era”!

  • john

    what about pc gamers we have all and made all game genres.

    the first game was made on pc

    pc gamers never had a game crash ever!!!

  • http://www.seriousgamer.ca Michael Prince

    I have been a PC gamer since my commodore years…that will be the epilogue piece because it has spanned my entire gaming career…till now…stay tuned.

  • http://whalertly.blogspot.com Robert M. Barga

    You guys are talking about games that need no thought to them
    Now Conly’s game of life, that requires some though

    that said, love the story

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    This was the first major console war and my brother and I would often switch consoles for weeks on end so we could play each other’s games.

    I’m sorry, but, for us die-hards the first major console war was the NES(8-bit) vs. SEGA Master System. As an avid gamer,how could you have overlooked such an important part of gaming history? Just the game Kid Icarus alone puts the NES in legend status!

  • Mark

    While the NES and SMS were contenders, the way things were back then, I was only vaguely aware of the SMS compared to the dominant advertising and presence of the NES until years later. NES was sold everywhere. SMS was more of a boutique item for the hardcore. You had to look for the SMS; you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a NES and/or someone who loved it.

    Of course, prior to all that, there was a multi-faceted skirmish between the Atari 2600/7800, Colecovision, Intellivision, and others that ruled the roost pre-crash.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Definitely, NES was far too popular to lose that war though, I have to disagree that the SMS was hard to find. It was available at Toys R Us back in the day. I do believe it may have cost a little more…

    That’s why I stated, “for us Die-Hards” because the SMS was a formidable system in technical specs as well as games to the NES. BUT, let me state again for the record… NES is legendary and,imo, was the best gaming experience in the history of video games!