Monday, 18 January 2016

Game over - do you want to continue?

A friend got in touch earlier in the week. We haven’t seen each other in years (he moved out to Australia some time ago), but we catch up regularly to see how we’re both doing. Whilst catching up, he asked me a simple question: ‘do you still have much time for games?’. We’d known each other since we started secondary school, and gaming was an interest we’d shared ever since, from racing each other to see who could complete the original Tomb Raider fastest (and avoiding homework to do so), or going to each other’s houses to do link up Duke Nukem 3D on Playstation in the days before easy internet console gaming, to even running an internet café together where we held local Unreal Tournament and Counter Strike championships (we always won).

I can still hear the theme tune in my head....and the screams of noobs as I wasted them

Outside of my family, gaming is probably my biggest passion and one of my few hobbies (I realise having few hobbies makes me sound dreadfully boring, but I prefer to think of it as having honed my interests over a number of years, abandoning things that no longer hold my attention or are ‘surplus to requirements’…yeah; if I keep telling myself that it makes me feel better).

My only vice...

Because of this, I try to make time for gaming in my everyday life (although that doesn’t mean playing games every day, if you follow me). It’s a delicate balance; one I’ve not always managed to maintain as well as I’d have liked (damn you, World of Warcraft!), but it is a pastime that means something to me, something I enjoy and has provided many benefits over the years, for example widening my circle of (virtual and real) friends by allowing me to meet like-minded people, giving me a reason to go to Norway (amazing country, definitely go if you ever get the chance), helping me learn new skills and, if science is to be believed, even improving my hand-eye coordination, lateral thinking skills and memory).

Start ‘em young

I got my first taste of gaming as a young child; my dad bought a ZX Spectrum for us and I remember being amazed by it. It was difficult to set up, games (on cassette tapes!) often refused to run properly and, overall, it was a bit of a faff. My mom in particular was fond of a game called ‘Pippo’, a simple game in the style of Q-Bert where you had to bounce around changing the colour of squares whilst avoiding enemies – I don’t think I’ve seen my mom play or show any real interest in computer games ever since, so this memory is a particularly fond one for me. Sometime later, a friend received an Amiga for their birthday and I have great memories of sitting in his bedroom, playing Blues Brothers, Bomb Jack and Double Dragon.

This looked way better in my head

Then came the Nintendo Gameboy (the original!) and that’s where my love for gaming really took off. I was then lucky enough to be given a SNES for my 11th birthday, along with a 14” colour TV, with a copy of Street Fighter 2. For those that don’t know, the early ‘90s was were home gaming really took off in the UK, with the Sega Megadrive and Super Nintendo Entertainment System becoming household names, and playground fights over who was better between Mario and Sonic often ending in tears.
Round One...FIGHT!

The generation game

The SNES was followed for me with the Playstation, Nintendo 64, Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii and now I’m part of the new generation, owning a Playstation 4, Xbox One and Wii U. Whilst my interest in gaming has had its peaks and troughs over the years, it’s never gone away and it’s something I hope to get ET interested in some day.

This is so easy I can do it with my eyes closed!

He’s already shown a bit of interest – he particularly likes Mario Kart and more recently he’s been trying to play Lego Marvel Superheroes (he likes jumping around as the Hulk and shouting ‘Hulk smash!’).

No, dad, it's forward down forward punch...just give it here and let me do it!

Game over – do you want to continue?

I’ve often wondered if I’ll ever ‘grow out of’ gaming. As I find myself with less and less time to devote to it and as it becomes increasingly expensive case of keeping up with the Joneses (particularly if you’re into PC gaming), I wonder if there will ever come a point where I’ll put down my controller for the last time.

Then I’ll see the next big thing, the hype train will leave the station and I’ll be back off the wagon before you can say ‘mixed metaphors’.

All aboard! CHOO CHOO!


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