So the other day I was messing around with my account on IGN, and realised you can make blog posts, so I decided to introduce myself to the community there. I ended up writing an extremely long post about my history with videogames. You can view it here, but because I thought Kantaloupe readers might be interested in how I got into this noble hobby as well, I’m reposting the story in its entirety here anyway. Enjoy!
I was introduced into the world of video games by a neighbour when I was six years old. He had a Gameboy Advance SP and I spent many afternoons watching him play Spyro on it. I decided that I wanted one too, so I asked for one for Christmas. Santa approved, and I got a bright red one. I loved it, and spent a couple of days just turning it on and off to see the Game Boy logo. When it was finally time, I went to an electronics store with my dad and chose two games: Pokemon Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire because Pokemon was cool, and Spyro Orange because my neighbour had had Spyro. It didn’t matter that those weren’t actually main series games, nor that they weren’t actually good games. I was allowed to play one hour a day, and I did so for a couple of weeks straight.
The next game of note I got several weeks later. Witness to the glory that was Pokemon Pinball, I decided that I needed another Pokemon game. So I went to Walmart with my grandpa and came home with a copy of Pokemon FireRed. That game blew my mind, as I thought I could do anything I wanted. I would act like the little house Red had was my house and sleep in my bed and buy random things from the Mart that I didn’t know how to use just because I had money for the first time ever. I didn’t know that you had different compartments in your bag, so I couldn’t use any Pokeballs, but I made it to Mt. Moon with my Squirtle. I was stuck there for a couple months. One day, my friend told me he had gotten through Mt. Moon, but when I invited him over to help me do it, he couldn’t quite recreate his success. Tragedy struck later that year when we visited Montreal. I realised in the airport taxi that I couldn’t find my FireRed cartridge. Needless to say, I was rather distraught. (Don’t worry, I bought another copy years later, but if anyone in the Montreal area found a FireRed cartridge in an airport taxi or hotel, I hope you enjoyed every bit of that game!)
The next Christmas, in 2005, my little sister got herself a Gameboy Advance SP and we each got a copy of Pokemon LeafGreen and Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire from our grandparents back in Asia. They had, with all the right intentions, actually got us fake copies that stopped saving after about a year, but they were immensely fun while they worked and we played them night and day. In fact, we played so much Pokemon that my parents implemented a system in which we were given a list of chores for the week. If we checked them all off by the end of the week and were otherwise model children, we were given the choice of either $2 or an hour of play. Now I wasn’t stupid, and even I knew that an hour of Gameboy wasn’t worth $2, which could be spent on beef jerky or a slushie at the hockey arena, so I didn’t get to playing much for a while, and once our fake copies of Pokemon stopped saving, there was no incentive to play anyway.
So for the two years following, 2006 and 2007, I didn’t play games at home. That was OK, I played outside like a good kid and I could always play Xbox or PS2 at my friends’ houses anyway. During this time, I developed a reputation for being the worst gamer in my circle of friends. I never got any practice at home, so I would just get myself killed in Halo all the time and I spent most of my time staring at a wall in any racing game.
In 2008, I had my eye on something marvellous that I saw at my friend’s house (the same Spyro friend). He had a DS Lite and when I saw the menu screen on it, I noticed something awesome. It had the “Start DS game” and “Start GBA game” functions, but there were other buttons that could do other things like draw and chat with other kids through the aether (PictoChat). I thought it looked quite a lot like a PDA, and you have to understand that all the cool kids on TV in those days had PDAs. Anyway, I’d saved up $100 from birthday and Chinese New Year money, and my parents chipped in the rest towards a red-and-black DS Lite.
It became my new obsession for a while. I didn’t want to go to hockey practice or play outside anymore. DS was all I needed. I could bring it to school and play Big Brain Academy with friends. I would go to sleepovers where we would sit in silence chatting on PictoChat just because we could. The DS was the first system I really loved. My favourite game at the time was Age of Empires: The Age of Kings. It was the first time I’d ever been truly interested in history, and I’d read books and watch movies about the historical figures in the game, such as Joan of Arc and Genghis Khan. This was also the first time I visited IGN. Being the dumb little 10-year-old that I was, I’d get stuck on the Campaign missions and have to look at walkthroughs all the time.
Don’t get me wrong, I still did most of the “wholesome” things kids are supposed to do, like sports and riding my bike and getting into snowball fights. For a while. That mostly stopped in 2009 when two things happened. First, I got Pokemon Diamond along with the official guide. This made me feel like a pro gamer and I believe that with its help, Pokemon Diamond was the first game I ever beat.
The second game was Age of Empires III. We’d just got a brand new iMac that spring (which I’m still typing on, go Apple!) and my parents, reluctant though they were at the prospect of me finding more opportunities to sit inside, allowed me to choose any game for it. I chose the overpriced Mac port of Age of Empires III and played it religiously for months that turned into years. Seriously. I didn’t buy any DS games from early 2009 untly early 2011 and apart from brief stints playing Sid Meier’s Pirates and LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4, I basically only played Age of Empires III. It even got me mildly interested in coding, since you could edit the map generation scripts and create your own maps using a customised, dumbed-down version of C++.
The thing that really got me back into gaming though was Minecraft, which I discovered just over two years ago. I was enthralled by the gameplay opportunities and freedom Minecraft provided, and I discovered the gaming community on YouTube also. I particularly enjoy Minecraft Let’s Player paulsoaresjr‘s videos and still watch them from time to time to this day. During this time, I tried to find ways to game for low costs, leading me to experiment with different indie games still in alpha stages, such as Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup and 0 A.D, as well as older DOS games such as X-COM. While I don’t often play those games anymore, they’ve given me more insight into the game development process and what it takes for games to be successful.
When Pokemon X and Y were announced back in January 2013, I became interested in the franchise again, but was disheartened to learn that it was 3DS only. I’m not overflowing with money from my jeans’ pockets, so I decided I’d have to give the title a pass. In May of that year, however, I was having a conversation with some friends at school about video games. My two best friends mentioned that they really liked a series of games called Zelda. Now these friends are farm boys who, in the three years I’d known them, had never spoken a word about video games, so I knew these Zelda games had to be something special. I decided to bite the bullet and buy a 3DS to play the Zelda: Ocarina of Time remake, a game which completely blew me away. Soon I was on a rampage, finding every Zelda game I had the consoles to play. None of them quite matched Ocarina of Time to me, though an honourable mention goes to Link’s Awakening, which is an amazing, often overlooked, entry in the series.
Pokemon X and Y came out last year, if you’ll remember, and I became mightily obsessed. I don’t think any other game in my library matches it in terms of the number of hours it ate of my life. I believe I’ve clocked around 225 hours EV Training my ‘mons, finishing the Pokedex, and otherwise making the Kalos Region my oyster. It reminded me why Pokemon is my favourite video game franchise and needless to say, words cannot describe how excited I am for Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby to come out next week!
I know this autobiography has dragged out for a while, but we’re almost there, I promise! Fire Emblem Awakening is the next title to have an impact on my gaming habits, and it’s not really for the reason you might expect. It’s a great game, don’t get me wrong, but it actually created an interest in me for something not even completely related to the game: JRPGs. I’d heard of them before, I knew that Pokemon was sort of one, but I really wanted to get into the likes of the Final Fantasy games.
So I got Bravely Default the day it came out. It was a sort of leap of faith into a genre I had never experienced before, and I enjoyed it so much, I immediately got Final Fantasy VI Advance and Chrono Trigger DS afterwards. I’m now working my way to present day JRPGs, and am spending my spare time limit breaking in Final Fantasy VII.
A thing to note is that I’m really not that good at video games at all (barring Pokemon), for someone who plays them so much. I’ve played my fair share of JRPGs over the past year and I still have to look up boss strategies every now and then. I’ve been playing some first-person shooters at a friend’s house and bought a PS Vita last month to get some practice at home, only to learn that Vita doesn’t actually have much in the way of FPS titles. I love my Vita to bits, but I’m still an embarassment at FPS games. (I also use inverted look controls, to the chagrin of my friends, who have to change them back everytime I return the controller.)
That pretty much brings us to the present day. I still only have handheld consoles, except for a GameCube we got from a friend earlier this year. I won’t be amazing at video games for a while, but I’ve been rather inspired to contribute at least what I can to wikis here on IGN and elsewhere. I use them so much, it’s only fair to give back a little. Despite my interest, I still can’t code anything worth a dime, but it’s something I’m interested in learning, and I’ll get to it someday.
What am I going to do in the forseeable future? Well, I’ll certainly be playing games, and I’ll perhaps post some of my reviews and impressions here on IGN Blogs. If you want to see some of the reviews I’ve already done, check out my personal blog! I’m posting the link below. I’ve been playing video games for almost 10 years now. Here’s to at least 10 more!