Evolution of a Gamer
The little girl who would become a gamer
When I was a kid, I was one of the very few girls who played video games. It wasn’t something that girls did back in the 1980s. Little girls were supposed to play with Barbies and baby dolls. They were supposed to play dress up and pretend to be wives and mothers, I guess in preparation for their adult lives. While I did play with my Barbies on occasion, usually with my cousins, I didn't pretend Barbie was dating Ken or was always dressing up for parties. Barbie had real issues to deal with in her life. My Ken was often a murderer and Barbie had to solve the crime before the other Barbies were victims. Sometimes Barbie's life was normal, but most of the time I preferred to play with Star Wars action figures, Legos, and Hot Wheels because there was more action to them. As the gaming industry began to develop, I started to shift to more video games. I was unknowingly laying the foundations of becoming a gamer.
I grew up with two younger brothers and my childhood best friend was a boy named Marc who lived nearby. Marc and I spent a lot of time playing with Star Wars action figures, trading Garbage Pail Kid cards, and watching movies like Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and, one of my favorites, The Goonies. When we weren’t playing outside, we were probably playing video games. In the early days, we had a ColecoVision with an Atari attachment. It was often a struggle to get games to work, and we didn’t have a big selection, but we enjoyed it when we could.
Years later, after the NES was release, Marc, my two brothers, and I would spend hours with video games, usually Mario or Zelda. Either we were playing or we were watching someone else play, cheering (or taunting) from the sidelines. Marc had a large game library and we would often borrow games from him. We still spent a lot of time outside, but on rainy days we had the NES to keep us entertained. After my parents divorced, I didn’t get to see Marc outside of school, and we eventually drifted apart as I stayed a gamer and he sold his video games to buy exercise equipment. I always joked that he needed to buff up to beat me in a fight. He always just laughed.
As the years went by, my brothers and I keep up with the new consoles for a while. When Sony first came out with their PlayStation, we didn’t buy one because we were loyal to Nintendo and Sega: I was the loyal Nintendo fan and my brother Dave was loyal to Sega. My brother Dan was in the middle, though he leaned more toward Nintendo because of Donkey Kong Country and Mario Kart. Years later, my faith in Nintendo was truly tested when they released the Virtual Boy. I had no interest in that “gimmick” and prepared for Nintendo to disappear from the console market. Fortunately, they recovered quickly and exceeded my expectations in the years following the failed Virtual Boy.
As time went on, we paid more attention to games than loyalty. We eventually bought a PlayStation after a friend of the family kept showing us his game collection, selling us on it when we saw Resident Evil and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. My Sega-loving brother insisted we get a Sega Saturn, and though it wasn’t the greatest system, I did enjoy hours of Theme Park and NiGHTS Into Dreams. I later left the Theme Park series for Roller Coaster Tycoon, but NiGHTS would forever remain among my favorite games. We entered late into the Xbox world, once again avoiding the newcomer in the console wars. That eventually led to the old-school Halo: CE LAN parties. Good times.
When you’ve been gaming as long as I have, it’s always sad when things come to an end. On September 9, 1999, we went to pick up our Sega Dreamcast. We didn’t know then that it would be the last system Sega would ever make. At that time, the Xbox wasn’t out yet and Nintendo’s N64 era was coming to an end. We had a lot of fun with our Dreamcast, but it just couldn’t compete with the new systems about to release. I still have the old Dreamcast somewhere, if not just for nostalgia.
To me, when you consider all factors, the best game console so far is the N64. We had such a great library of games for that system and it was the first time the three of us could play together. The hours we spent playing Mario Kart 64 and GoldenEye 007... I actually still have my blue N64 and most of our games—our original N64 and the rest of the games are with one of my brothers. I did love the GameCube very much, but the intro to 3D environments on the N64 was spectacular at the time, and nothing can change that. Don’t get me wrong—I love my PS4 and sometimes get the overwhelming urge to play Halo on my Xbox One, it just isn’t as awe inspiring as the days of the N64.
Next week I’ll continue with more gamer stories, including what it was like to be a female gamer in the early days of Xbox Live and how the gaming community has changed over the years. In the meantime, what was your favorite game console?