From the dawn of gaming to today, millions have had the chance to enjoy what video games have had to offer, and that is no clearer than it is today. Whether we played countless hours of Pong or have trekked even more countless hours in titles like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, gaming has become more than just a hobby, but a force to reckoned with in the worlds of entertainment, pop culture, and media at large across the world: luckily, there is a day to celebrate all that it has given us.
Today happens to mark the occasion of National Video Games Day, and in celebration of both the holiday and our love for the hobby, the staff of DualShockers have collected their favorite gaming memories, our “origin stories” in how we got started in playing games, and more to celebrate our favorite pastime.
I guess I have Pizza Hut to thank for my avid love of gaming. Flashback to 1994 — I’m a four year-old kid in Parsippany, New Jersey who loves Disney, Power Rangers, and Gargoyles: I’m restricted to a half-body cast after breaking my femur, proof that my klutziness is a genetic abnormality versus mere bad luck. On a fateful afternoon, my dad grabbed a large pizza from Pizza Hut and, lo and behold, he was one of 500 national winners to win an original Game Boy.
Now, my father was and will never be a gamer. His interests consist of the New York Mets, non-fiction books about the mafia, The History Channel, and not much else: so, what better gift could you give a bed-bound child than a Game Boy? Bundled with Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, I was instantly hooked. While I was never great at the game, I played the hell out of Tree Zone and Space Zone, eventually working my way to Mario Zone and Turtle Zone. I never was able to get to Mario (erg… Wario’s) Castle though.
And just like that, my interest in gaming grew outward. Soon I was collecting a variety of Game Boy games amassed from Christmases and birthdays. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was my next favorites…that is, until one fateful Christmas I landed with a Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
On that day my parents, both jocks in their own right, lost me to video gaming. I began my love affair with Nintendo — later blossoming to Sony and Microsoft — however, I suppose Pizza Hut is all that I have to thank.
Tomas Franzese, Staff Writer
As the youngest here at DualShockers, my “origin story” starts a little bit later than everyone else’s. While I had previously dabbled in games once or twice when I was super young, I didn’t really get into gaming until 2004.
On Christmas morning of 2004, I went over to my Nonna’s house to open presents, not knowing what I was going to receive. When I got there, I saw a special present wrapped that was from my parents. When my brother and I finally got the chance open it, there was the original Xbox in a bundle with a disc that contained both NCAA Football 05 and Top Spin 4. While these games are clearly very dated by today’s standards, they were some of my first memorable console experiences, and I cherish them dearly.
Over the next year, I would get my hands on games like LEGO Star Wars and Star Wars: Battlefront 2, and finally got a GBA with Pokémon Sapphire and tons of other great games that I have not mentioned here. In subsequent years I would get an Xbox 360, Wii, DS, and PS3, which helped start my passion for gaming which would cause me to buy newer systems such as the 3DS, Wii U, and PS4.
Playing these great games gave me many great memories with both family and friends, and set me on the path to work here at DualShockers, so I will always remember them.
Azario Lopez, Staff Writer
When I was four, my dad brought home a Nintendo Entertainment System, at the time I wouldn’t have known that a Super Nintendo had been out for two years. Anyway, Super Mario Bros. was everything to me for much of the early parts of my life. At the age of 9, I got a Sony PlayStation with Crash Bandicoot and Ace Combat. It’s fun to look back and remember all the games that I would play because, at that time, my favorite genre wasn’t defined yet: I just wanted to play everything.
In 1999, I played Final Fantasy VII and my life was completely changed. After that point it was RPGs all the time: I just completely enjoy falling in love with the story and characters that would fit so perfectly in this world. I recall pissing off the people who worked at the library because I would print out 100s of pages of walkthroughs off of GameFAQs for games like Legend of Mana and SaGa Frontier 2.
Throughout my life, no matter how bad things seemed or how hard my day was, these RPGs provided an escape to a world of fantasy and excitement. I’m 27 now and looking back at all the silly trends and failed projects throughout my life, it’s perfectly easy to see that the one thing that has been most consistent for me is video games.
Ryan Meitzler, Features Editor
Having been born in the end of the 80s, video games have always been something I’ve been able to cherish since I grew up alongside them. Since as far back as I can remember, I have had video games to get me through every point in my life.
From my first consoles (an NES and SEGA Master System), to PlayStation and Nintendo 64 getting me through my adolescence, and to nowadays where my current systems consist of PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, PS Vita, and PC (of which I’m currently planning to build my own down the line), there has truly never been a time where I’ve been without a game system to turn to, and a collection of great games to keep me company.
Through the years I’ve played titles that I’ve come to call my favorites: Super Smash Bros., Fallout 3, Half-Life 2, Resident Evil 4, Red Dead Redemption, and so many others have been games that I’ve cherished in the years since playing them. I have an even larger backlog that has already taken me several years to make a dent in, and yet it’s easily one of the most enjoyable problems I always have: having too much to play.
Through the years of getting older and my past getting increasingly behind me, so many aspects of my life have changed from the days of being in school and playing games pretty much any free opportunity that I could get, to balancing work and life with the occasional time I get to put some time into the next big thing in gaming. As much as the road ahead continues to change, the one thing I can always rely on is my love of gaming, and as far as I can tell, that road is going to never end.
Giuseppe Nelva, Editor-in-Chief
It was Christmas morning, many, many years ago. Under the tree I found a strange box. I had asked my father for one of these new consoles that were starting to get popular, but the box was the wrong size.
When I opened it, inside I found a Spectrum 48K. Dad did not buy a console, but an actual full-fledged computer. I immediately fell in love with the small form factor and the sleek rubber keys. The Spectrum was probably the first thing I had that wasn’t a toy.
Its gaming capability of course reflected the times: to load its games it used cassette tapes, which meant that before you could actually play, you had to wait for about twenty minutes while the cassette player made weird, shrill noises. At that time, I used to play on an 8 inch. black and white portable TV that was already old at that time: I don’t think most people nowadays have even ever seen one of these things. You actually had to turn a knob in order to find the right channel the computer was displaying at.
Yet, I was charmed and hooked. My destiny was irredeemably marked by that small and beautiful computer that was doomed to be obliterated by the Commodore 64 in one of the first platform wars, displaying some (for the time) incredible visuals and stories on a screen that I could almost completely cover with my palm, after letting a cassette scream for twenty minutes.
Those were the first, timid steps of gaming, and my own first timid steps into gaming. That’s probably why thirty seconds of loading times and the occasional crash that we get nowadays (and that appear to infuriate some), don’t bother me in the slightest.
Now that I’m rapidly approaching the second half of my life (if I’m lucky), I realize every day more that gaming has been and continues to be a gift that makes my life better, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.
Ben Petchey, Staff Writer
My first experience with gaming was back on the Nintendo Entertainment Systen. My uncle owned the little toaster-like box when I was very young and I remember playing Mario for the very first time on it. Since then, my interest in gaming only increased: I played games whenever I could, especially around friends’ houses before eventually buying a PlayStation 2.
16 years on and gaming is still very much a large part of my life: I now own a PS4 and just wish I had more time to play games!
Kenneth Richardson, Staff Writer
To be honest, I cannot recall a point where I didn’t love video games. Some of my earliest, most fond memories are of playing or acquiring or just seeing a certain video game.
I remember hearing my father, who was also a big gamer, discussing the PlayStation and I always thought he was talking about some place we might visit. When it finally released and he brought one home, I remember watching the opening cinematic to Tekken for the first time. I was absorbed in the characters and animations and then I played the game; nothing else had filled me with quite the same excitement and energy.
I was six years old then and since then I’ve always been a gamer, across various platforms and generations. I’m quite sure I’ve played some video game for some stretch of time on most of the days I’ve been alive. As I’ve grown up and leisure time has all but evaporated, games hold the even more precious role of being my escape and the way I can truly relax.
Gone are long summers and school breaks filled with nonstop gaming bliss. The life of an adult can be staggeringly unexciting and mundane, but never do the stresses of the daily routine seem further away than when I’m summoning a magic spell to fell a demon in the depths of some dungeon or finally executing a combo I’ve practiced for ages or emotionally connecting with a character that, despite being fictional, perfectly understands some of my own beliefs and thoughts and even expands my own horizons with new ideas and perspectives.
Whether it’s being shocked by some new narrative development or slaughtering heavenly entities with attacks made of hair or simply hopping across platforms to collect coins and mushrooms, I am seldom more content than when I am gaming. So it has always been and so it is likely to remain. On this National Video Games Day, I’ll be playing Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, Tales of Xillia and Nurse Love Addiction.
Steven Santana, Staff Writer
One of my earliest video game memories is the boot up sound of the Genesis: “SEGA.” Despite my father owning a SEGA Genesis, I grew up a PlayStation kid, with the original PlayStation console beginning my love of virtual worlds. Thanks to a family friend we had access to CD-ROM rips of popular games like Tomb Raider, N2O: Nitrous Oxide, and Crash Team Racing, as well as more eccentric titles such as Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions, Disney’s A Bug’s Life, and Rugrats: Search for Reptar.
Since then, I have gone on to progress to Game Boy Color, PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, Xbox, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and so on. I love games, what they are capable of when it comes to storytelling, and making the player an active participant in the events going on.
Sometimes wish I had a larger love for film instead due to the time commitment of games. Then I play games like Hyper Light Drifter and The Witness and am just fine with experiencing what developers have to offer.