I’ve joked that I was raised by a Nintendo I built myself. It’s a half joke. My family didn’t have a ton of money but somehow, we had a Nintendo. Maybe the latter explains the former! Later I was able to Voltron together a few consoles that people had tossed out. As a result, from an early age I always had a console, sometimes new sometimes salvaged.
I have many fond memories of Friday night trips to a video rental store that was next door to a pizza place, a match made in heaven. That glorious pizza smell even attached itself to the game boxes! Trying random games based solely on box art was always exciting. I never knew what I was getting into. Half the time they weren’t even in English! Sometimes they didn’t work. I didn’t care. If anything, those experiences taught me valuable life lessons.
Gaming back then was different. Despite the contrary it was more social. This was before social media changed the definition of “social” to mean messages left on a website. Back then social meant interacting with people in person! I’m not a social person but I miss that kind of gaming; on the couch with a few friends, family and pizza or at the local Arcade testing your skills face to face…or more accurately side by side.
The Promised Land – A TV in my Room
Eventually I received a dumpster-dove TV for my room. Looking back maybe it was to keep me in there and free up the main TV! It was bulky, heavy, it made a high-pitched hum when it was on and after a while it heated up and smelled like a battery. My beloved TV had two clunky knobs; one for channels, one for volume. They were hard to turn and made a distinguished click noise as they did. It couldn’t get channels anymore but it worked for gaming on glorious channel 3 – the video input channel.
I was a Nintendo loyalist until I played Road Rash for the Sega Genesis at a friend’s house. I loved the Genesis until the Nintendo 64 blew my mind with their 3-D spaces and games like WCW/nWo World Tour and GoldenEye. The Xbox introduced me to FPS’s and Ghost Recon Online; my first online gaming experience. Then in 2003 I met Star Wars Galaxies though a friend. I wasn’t a Star Wars fan, never owned a computer and had no idea how much a game could impact someone’s life until Galaxies became my virtual escape to a better place. Several MMORPG’s later I’ve arrived at this place here and now. Like many of you I was a gamer before it was slang and long before it was cool to pose as one for clicks on social media.
Gamer isn’t shilling for clicks it represents something forged in the dark of night sitting on the floor next to your dusty Nintendo in a tiny hot room lit only by a smelly old TV on which you are restarting Super Mario Bros for the thousandth time because back in those days we didn’t have saves. Like I said gaming, especially back then, was full of valuable life lessons and those lessons created a unique kind of person; a real gamer.
If that scenario sounds even vaguely familiar to you then you are part of a generation that was privileged enough to watch gaming evolve. You gamed from Arcade Pinball to Pong to Consoles and PCs to now and hopefully into the future, the Matrix come to life. For years, they told us our hobby was unhealthy and made us unintelligent or even dangerous. Now they all play games too, they just don’t understand it like gamers do.
They can’t see it for what it is and where it’s going like we do. Social media is just gaming with bad graphics – gotta get those points! More importantly game code turned social app turned AI now rules the world but you probably already knew that because gamers know these things.
The offspring of our previously disdained hobby will take humankind to the next plateau of existence if we don’t screw it up first. Once we get there it will decide if it allows us to keep parasitically living off it. AI wont conquer us by force, it wins when we would rather kneel than live without it. It conquers through convenience and reliance but that is for another column.
I’m Tim Eisenzimmer, friends call me Time. This column doesn’t have a gimmick other than the one writing it. It will evolve with this site. For now, I plan to use it to comment on whatever gaming topics pique my interest when I sit down and put fingers to keys. If you decide to stick around and grant me the privilege of your time I’ll try to make it entertaining for you. You just got my story, I’d love to hear if it relates to yours in the comments below. Thank you for reading and remember, the mighty don’t shill.