Gaming is about the experiences we have, and the memories we make when playing games. I love video games, and I always have. They were a huge part of my life growing up. Here’s a story from my childhood that will hopefully resonate with some of you why we love games:
I grew up 7 years younger than my three older sisters. It really was like having four moms. I admit it, I was spoiled. When each of my sisters left left for college one by one, though, I realized I had a responsibility over my own life. I was suddenly unsure of my future. I had my parents still, but I could not help but think that things were different. I suddenly had to help my mother clean more, and take out the trash. These things might seem small, but to me they were drastic changes. I began to feel unsure of whether or not I could make it on my own.
The thing that renewed me, gave me hope again, was something that the world will never deem significant. No other person besides me was helped or encouraged by the event, but it mattered to me. It was the day I beat my sister’s high score on Star Fox 64.
You see, video games played a huge role in my life growing up. I recall watching my sisters play Super Mario on our grey plastic NES.
I would lean back on our flat, green carpet and watch the small square TV screen flicker to life. There, on that screen, I would watch as my sisters were transformed into turtle-battling, princess-rescuing heroes. I marveled at the secret areas they found, and the many dark castles they battled through unscathed. They were heroes to me. I remember how happy I felt when my small hands had the chance to hold the hard, awkward-feeling controller and orchestrate the brave Italian plumber. The first time I saw the words, “Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!” I almost felt like I was one of the great warriors I saw my sisters as.
Time went on, and my two oldest sisters left for college. My last sister, Andrea, and I had a Nintendo 64 now. She finished Super Mario 64, and I never did. She beat Donkey Kong 64, and I got stuck halfway through. She almost always beat me at Super Smash Brothers, and she had all of the high scores on Star Fox 64. Then the day came when my sister moved miles away from me and our little black N64. I might have felt lonely, but at least I now had the opportunity to play Star Fox without taking turns with my sister.
I turned on the system and I was greeted by the blocky forms of Star Fox and his crew posing valiantly on the screen. I pressed “start” and, once again, war broke out across the Lilat system. I piloted my ship through battle after battle. My hands sweat and I pressed my thumb harder into the joystick to get a better grip. The Arwing on the screen flew through asteroids and canyons, shooting every enemy possible. “Do a barrel roll!” I said in unison with Peppy. I knew all of the quotes. As the end of the game drew nearer, I realized that to beat Andrea’s score I needed more than just my raw skill. I needed a new plan. At the last minute, I decided to veer off of the normally high scoring “hard” path and hit one of the “medium” planets. Sector Z was the level Andrea and I would have normally played, but I decided to go down to the planet Macbeth instead, because there were more enemies to shoot there.
The decision paid off. I reached the end of the game, and after I blew up Andros’ brain and got pinned with medals, I saw my score. “Congratulations rank 1st” the screen read. I was so excited I ran to the phone and called my sister almost before I had put in my initials. The phone rang, and I heard Andrea’s voice echo through the line.
“Hello?” Her voice crackled in the earpiece.
“Guess what,” I began excitedly, “I beat your high score on Star Fox!” She might not have been that excited or interested in my successes within a video game, but I felt great. To me, I had proven that I could live my life on my own, without my sisters taking care of me. I was eleven years old, and I was my own man.
Thank you for reading, and God bless!