Wherein I embark on a trip that may or may not be long and strange.
Like I mentioned last week, this might be somewhat strange in scope an nature. Hopefully you enjoy it, but if not then lesson learned all the same. I'm guessing that either this entry which you're reading now, or one of the next two which build upon it, will by far be the most indulgent writing that's going on this week. There is a method to my madness, so I ask that you trust me in this case, or at least hear me out to the end.
Today there's not going to be any vitriol, no harsh criticism or talk about current issues. No. Today I look back at my own history with video games, and why they've been a large part of my life.
I'm 26, and while I can't actively remember when I first started playing video games I don't think it'd be too far off the mark to say that I've spent much of the last two decades -- give or take a year or two -- playing some console or handheld. I was a bit too young to be one of the first generation NES owners, sure, but I certainly remember getting my first Game Boy, with copies of Tetris and Super Mario Land among other games.
I've been there, sometimes a bit behind the times in some regards, but I saw the all out wars both console and handheld between Nintendo and Sega. I play the Game Boy, the Game Gear, the Super NES and the Genesis, and each was wonderful and had much to offer in its own way: from the simple delights of the first time that I beat a Sonic game to the challenges of playing titles like the Final Fantasy Legend series when I was still a bit too dumb to understand most of the core concepts of an RPG.
Time marches on of course, and I saw the fall of Sega, the rise of Sony, and the death of my Nintendo 64. I have to admit that I was a more than a little miffed about the timing (it was right before such games as Perfect Dark, Majora's Mask, and Kirby 64 came out). However, I took the opportunity to see what all the hubbub about this Playstation was about, and I was not disappointed. Certainly I'd heard a lot about games like Final Fantasy 7 -- I'd been a fan of the series ever since I got introduced to 6 and was mature enough to understand how to actually play it -- but experiencing it and games like Metal Gear Solid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night convinced me that this wasn't something that anyone ever "grows out of" if you're a gamer, then you're a gamer for life.
Fast forward again, past the domination of Sony in the PS2 generation to the more even and I believe more exciting current one. The technology has improved, but some people say that games have lost their spirit, the essence that makes them fun. To those people I say: you're obviously not looking in the right places. Certainly I'm at a point in my life where I don't have as much time for games as I used to, but that doesn't mean that I enjoy them any less. I'm still as engrossed by a good game as I ever was, and still more than happy to play something that's worth my time and energy.
But something is quietly amiss. Not to the point where I would have even noticed if it hadn't have been pointed out to me. It's not a problem, at least not a huge one. Not yet. But what I see doesn't fill me with confidence either. That's why I think it's time to draw a line in the sand. However, what I fully mean won't be completely elucidated until the next two days have passed, so I hope that I haven't scared (or more likely bored) you off. There's still a long road ahead of us, and I've only taken the first few steps.