So uh, this ended up being a whoooooole lot longer than I expected it to be, welp!
Recently I posted in the group chat asking about how we came about enjoying videogames as much as we do and what were our first “real” experiences as it were and when the switch from casual player to dedicated enthusiast occurred. Alex suggested we should each make a rosr post about it and i think that’s a pretty good idea, so here I go.
My earliest memory is Sonic.
For as long as I can remember we have had a Megadrive in our house with exactly 2 games, Desert Strike which was some helicopter game that I despised, and Sonic 1 which i loved despite never being able to legitimately get past the casino level. Sonic taught me how to learn my directions as even know if i need to double check which is my lefthand or righthand side i will visualize the Megadrive controller and whisper to myself “up, down, left, right, A+Start” which some of you may know as the level select cheat. I never knew why my parents bought a megadrive and only had the single game on it, but I do know their lack of buying more MD games probably saved me a fate as a Sonic fan, so thanks mum+dad!
However a single machine with a single game that I couldn’t even reach half way in does not a gamer make. The biggest influence on me was probably my older cousin Jon. I was nearly obsessed with Jon, even when I was back in lower school and he in middle school he had his own gaming PC when our family didn’t even have one, I have vivid memories of visiting his house and just watching him play Carmageddon for hours, totally enthralled to the point of when I was dragged home I would beg my parents to buy us a computer for days on end. Jon was 7 or 8 years older than me and while i’m sure most teens didn’t want an annoying child constantly pestering them about computers, Jon was completely awesome and always had time for me.
Eventually my parents caved and bought a family PC, except by that point I had lost all interest and was obsessed with the next latest and greatest thing, the Gameboy + Pokemon which I so desperately wanted (not-so-coincidentally Jon had gotten a Gameboy at about the same time) which I remember the following conversation between me and my parents after they picked me up from school one day;
Parents: Ashley guess what happened today!?
Me: YOU GOT ME A GAMEBOY??????
Parents: What? We got a computer like you always wanted
Me: Oh….Can you get me a gameboy instead?
cue me crying and whining for the car ride home.
To me that computer was just a huge hunk of junk that couldn’t play pokemon and I hated it for it.
Until Jon stepped in to save the day. He installed a GBC emulator (who thought the words NO$CASH could make you nostalgic), pokemon red+blue in english and then, like some divine gift from God, japanese roms of gold, silver and the trading card game before they had even been heard about in UK playgrounds. Being the stubborn little shit children tend to be, I was able to get really, really far in both the TCG and G/S in a language i didn’t understand just by hitting enough things enough times and pressing enough different squiggly lines. And let me tell you, I was the hottest shit in school. EVERYONE wanted to be my friend to get the latest pokemon info (most of which i made up, because i had no idea myself while playing!)
The following christmas, I got a GBC with blue version which saw most of it’s use when i invited friends over for sleepovers and trade away their best pokemon for whatever shit i had in my box when they went to the bathroom.
However, probably THE BIGGEST change in my life and i would 100% attribute my current videogame loving nerd self too, would be the following birthday. Jon and his family came round to visit and Jon came bearing a special gift for me, a CD he had burnt himself containing a snes emulator and roms for every single game ever released on the snes in english. I became engrossed with that, I discovered RPGs and how much they kicked ass, and after I made my way through every game on the list I found out about japanese games and taught myself how to patch in fan-translations and played through all of those, and after i finished THAT i dicked around with Hex-Editing and started doing dumb shit in games through that. It was around then I realized how much I really loved gaming. That SNES emulator kept me going, gaming wise for at least 5 years by itself alone, and I still go back to play my favourite snes RPGs occasionally even now.
And then WC3 came along. I remember dragging my parents to (guess who) Jon’s house and he showing it to me and being totally in awe. I remember how happy I was when he burned me an iso onto a CD and taught me how to mount then via virtual drives. I remember being crushed when our shitty computer couldn’t run it and I was so happy when that old pc broke and my parents were forced to upgrade I went to the shops and bought WC3 + it’s expansion with my own money. Me and my brother fought over the computer so much that we were not allowed on it during school days and had to take alternating hours on weekends using a special egg timer my mum found.
This feels like a pretty weird and abrupt end, but I don’t know what else there is really, i got really into handhelds as i used birthday and christmas gifts to upgrade from the gbc->gba->ds and i ended up playing a lot of different RTSs over the years (some of my fondest memories were massive age of empires 2 games where i would get the biggest map and fill it with AI and just kill the bots one by one). We eventually got a PS1 and then a PS2 which i used almost exclusively to further my final fantasy obsession. But my 3 biggest ‘developments’ were for sure the GBC and SNES emulators and then WC3, and all of that was thanks to Jon. So thanks dude, for putting up a snotty little baby who would visit you at least weekly just to stare at you playing videogames.
Maybe I’ll do another post later about how i got into “competitive” gaming, but for now this seems like wayyyy too many words about videogame experiences, i’m looking forwards to other peoples stories!