Stories of Gaming
During my childhood, video games were the great equalizer. My brother and I would constantly be competing on Mario Kart for the SNES, my dad would have us try and teach him how to play Mega Man X, even my grandpa would spend hours playing Duck Hunt after someone else broke his high score. Since my parents were divorced, I would split my time between two families, but one thing that was always constant was gaming. My mom had the NES and later the N64, at my dad’s house we had the Super Nintendo, and my uncle bought my brother and me a Sega Genesis that stayed at my grandparents. No matter who’s house we were at, there was always a game to try and best someone at.
However, for a long time, that’s all gaming was to me: a competition. A virtual board game with a winner and a loser. My family wasn’t particularly well-off, so we were late adopters to the next generation of consoles. But, after about a year and a half of saving money from birthdays and chores, my brother and I could finally buy a PlayStation. I remember coming home with it, and spending the next month completely absorbed in Crash Bandicoot. No matter where we were, the PlayStation came with us so we could play through those levels over and over. But even though I absolutely loved Crash, I kept wanting to know who he was, where he came from, and what would happen if I walked off the trail and into the forest? What would I find? These new games held so much promise, but I wanted more.
“For the first time, gaming wasn’t about collecting coins or earning more points than someone else, it was about telling a story.”
Then came the one that changed it all. The game that really showed me what gaming could be: Metal Gear Solid. For the first time, gaming wasn’t about collecting coins or earning more points than someone else, it was about telling a story. It was an experience instead of just a challenge. The characters came to life on the screen, and by the time it was over, it changed what you thought about them. Snake, at first the kick ass action hero, was really just a pawn, being used since birth. Psycho Mantis wasn’t just the psychopath his name made you think he was, but a confused, troubled kid with powers no one understood.
From then on, I was obsessed with story. I sought out games that created a universe instead of just a distraction. Games like The Legacy of Kain series, The Elder Scrolls games, Deus Ex, Final Fantasy, Silent Hill, Fallout, Knights of the Old Republic, and so many more. Through these games, I gained an appreciation for stories as a whole. I became an avid reader, and was one of those kids in high school that actually liked essays and book reports. I went to Cal Lutheran and UC Riverside where I studied English Literature, constantly trying to weave video games into my papers. I sought out like minded people to talk with about my favorite characters, and after seeing that many of them worked with computers, decided to do the same. All of these things led me to where I am today, working for iBUYPOWER doing a job I love, with an office full of people who are as passionate about gaming as I am, if not more so.
Gaming opened my world by showing me countless others. It shaped nearly all aspects of my life in one way or another, and I couldn’t think of a better way to repay that than by helping other gamers feel the same.