Sunday, November 6, 2011

PC & Console Game Week: 6 of 6

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

When I originally sat down to write my third part, I decided to tell stories that revolved around video games, but I soon was closing in on two posts worth of material and still had stories to tell. I guess I will be posting the stories another time. I figured that telling those stories would give an overview of sorts of the time after NES for me, since I’ve not really owned any systems after that. My gaming has been either on PC or on systems owned by other people.

The truth is that somewhere along the way, many of my hobbies took a backseat to life. I don’t say this in the same way that some might. My friend Adam, a fellow Commodore 64 supporter, has for instance said that he has no real interest in sitting down with a group of people and playing Dungeons & Dragons. He also doesn’t listen to Pink Floyd very often. These are things that he feels were part of his teenage years, and he’s no longer a teenager. For me it’s a little different, you know, aside from the fact that I still listen to Pink Floyd a few times each year. For me, I would happily step back into watching hours upon hours of TV and movies each day, playing hours upon hours of video games each day, and yes, even playing Dungeons & Dragons regularly.

What changed for me was lack of resources. They say that we all have 60 seconds per minute, 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours per day, and so forth. Unfortunately, for all the things they say that are either wrong or suspect, this one has proven to be true. I spent my youth dreaming of being a writer and a musician. I spent most of my time doing things that I enjoyed, but didn’t move me in that direction. Since I wished to focus more effort on creative endeavors, another resource that I didn’t have enough of, money, had to be prioritized accordingly. I stopped buying game systems, because I was only going to get a few hours each month to play. Better to own a computer that I could write on, and when I had time to play video games, play video games on it.

The nice thing is that when I do buy game systems, I’m so many generations behind that someone either gives it to me or I get it cheap. Miguel gave me his Super Nintendo when he was no longer playing it much, and I think he had bought another system. Miguel only buys console systems for Star Wars games anyway. The truth is Miguel loaned me the SNES, but once he got an emulator, he said that it was an indefinite loan. The bastard will probably read this and want it back. I’m happy to give it back, but I don’t feel like going through my storage shed again.

I never had a lot of time to play it, but the nice thing about it is that when I did play it, it tended to be with my children. I even busted out the Atari 2600 for them to play one night. Yes, I still own an Atari 2600. I just don’t feel like going through storage.

Adam gave me a Gameboy Color. They misspelled colour. This was a short lived thing for me. He sent me Super Mario Land, and so that was all I ever played on it. My younger son loved the game. Unfortunately by that time, he was no longer living with me. He was getting so much more use out of the Gameboy Color that I let him have it. I asked him about it later, and he defeated Super Mario Land. Apparently, I had been pretty close to defeating it myself from what he said.

In a strange way, getting my gaming fix on other people’s console systems has probably made video games a little more social for me than the average player. I spent many hours playing video games all by my lonesome as a teenager. I wasn’t a shut in like the stereotype of geek gamer suggests. I just tended to stay up very late at night playing games. I would hang out with friends after school and play video games all night.

Then later, I stopped going to school out of protest of a shitty education system that was more concerned with whether I was fitting in with some dress code than whether I was learning anything. I get that sort of aspect of school is training for the world of jobs, but I wasn’t learning anything. I knew all the important math, most of the necessary spelling and grammar, and everything else we learned was designed to get passing grades that year, and then we didn’t remember it the next. Why go to school? Why not stay home and play video games and watch “The Price Is Right”? I was learning about as much.

But years later, after figuring out that self education is probably more rewarding, I would tend to only get to play video games when I hung out with people who wanted to play video games.

There is social gaming, like MMORPGs. I haven’t gotten into that world yet. It seems to require too much time commitment, in spite of the fact that people tell me all the time that there are activities on “World of Warcraft” that can only take twenty minute a day, I doubt it’s as complete of an experience as playing a game or two of Magic Online on my day off. The games of Magic themselves are rarely very social, but there are rooms to talk to others.

I think that more than anything is a testament to the shift in priority that video games have taken in my life. As a teenager, I dreamed of the future when games would be what they are now. Now, I’m just not quite as interested as I should be. I’m interested in playing video games, but not losing my whole day off to them on a consistent basis.

Of course, that presumes that I have a whole day off. For a while this year, I didn’t have many days off. I bought a Gameboy Advance, and have been playing Advance Wars, which is a game with so much content that I’ll probably still be playing it for a while. That has been one odd advantage to working long shifts where all I have to do is make sure things don’t get stolen and stay awake. I’m on the clock, but I can also pursue some level of hobbies. Now if it paid better.

Anyway, I think I’m at the end of my thought process for this week. Look forward to my future two part “Tales of Video Gaming” segments where I tell the stories I was planning on telling today.

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