A Child of Nintendo

nes-systemI’m sure you’ve heard a story begin like this before, but my family grew up poor.

My brother and I lived with our grandparents, along with my 2 uncles and 5 aunts in small, 2 bedroom house in Sacramento, California. My parents worked throughout my childhood in St. Louis, Missouri to save up for our first home. They would visit every summer, but growing up without parents felt very odd and confusing as a child. Sure, I knew who my parents were, but they weren’t the ones that raised me until the age of 7. What really sprouted the love for my parents wasn’t their affection (which was plenty, though remotely), but it was the day they handed me my first gaming console: The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

My dad had saved up $250.00 to purchase the NES with the light gun combo. When boarding the flight to Sacramento, he held the console as a carry-on to make sure it arrived safely. He later told me that he worked so hard to get this gift that even if his checked-in luggage was lost, at least my brother and I would receive our gift.

“Nintendo gave me the fundamentals to snowball my creativity that I use every single day at iBUYPOWER.”

Experiencing Super Mario Bros. for the first time was a life-changing moment for me. As a child, your imagination is at a critical stage, absorbing everything you see like a sponge. Nintendo gave me the fundamentals to snowball my creativity that I use every single day at iBUYPOWER. If you think about it, it was because of Nintendo that has helped many kids with their hand-eye coordination and critical thinking skills. I truly feel that the Legend of Zelda has helped me solve real-life “puzzles” which I may have had trouble with if I had not grown up with video games.

virtual-boyI played a lot of traditional sports growing up: Hockey, tennis, baseball, basketball and soccer, but while I was taking a break from that, I would lose myself in video games. I was one of the first kids lucky enough to get the Nintendo Virtual Boy. It was another pivotal moment in my life where gaming again changed my outlook on life. I saw beyond the “old school,” 2D side-scrollers, and realized that 3D has been finally introduced to the general consumer. Though it didn’t succeed, it showed that Nintendo was always willing to innovate in the name of “gaming.” Many failed attempts at 3D gaming after that, which left me with just bad experiences. You wouldn’t see a successful 3D product until the Nintendo 3DS, which had a really rocky start.

htc-viveThough it disappeared for a while, the idea of VR was always there, patiently waiting for technology to catch-up. The HTC Vive, in my opinion, is one of the most immersive VR experiences. Not to discredit everything the Oculus Rift has accomplished (which is amazing), but again, I’m sitting in front of a desk with limited movement.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I am desperately searching for that “mind-blown” feeling again like I did with the original NES. We can’t expect to change over 25 years of what gaming has taught us overnight, which was to be stationary in front of a screen. I can imagine a world where games aren’t only played, but deeply felt.

I write to you today from my desk at iBUYPOWER. I graduated college with a Fine Arts Degree and a concentration in Communications Arts / Advertising in 2005. I am the Marketing Manager here, and this is my dream job. To some, this might not be a lot, but growing up as a child of Nintendo, this job allows me to reclaim what I loved so much as a child. There is nothing wrong with playing games. If anything, playing games at this age is a prime example of how my imagination and childhood survived the harsh realities of life.

I guess you can say that growing up poor was the best thing that has ever happened to me.

by Michael Hoang, on April 13, 2016