I was recently introduced to Man Crates and tasked with writing a post about gaming nostalgia. What is Man Crates, you ask? Well, after checking out their site, I found that they sell some pretty cool gifts for dudes. In crates. That need to be opened with a good, old-fashioned crowbar. Think of it like a hardcore gift basket.
Our challenge was to think back on what made us the gamers we are today and what we’d want in our own gaming-themed crate of awesome. As I thought this over, I thought of a lot of moments that were particularly important to me, and I realized that what they all had in common were the same games and the same systems. Furthermore, to best choose the moment I could first begin to define myself as a gamer, I decided it would be best to start from the beginning, and then I had it.
Being a gamer was once about nothing more than wanting to play, no matter how good or how bad the games were.
That’s what it boils down to, for me, at least. Nowadays, gaming is just a part of me, and it’s not something that warrants any special attention. I brush my teeth and comb my hair and eat lunch. And I play video games. Every day of my life. It’s simply another part of my daily routine. I have so many games to choose from, so many consoles to play, but many years ago, I didn’t have all of that, nor did I need it.
You see, while Pokemon Stadium was what really got me into gaming, before that, we already had a large collection of Super Nintendo games. I was, for whatever reason, afraid to touch them, and they sat around on a shelf beside our big, old square TV (I still don’t see what’s so great about widescreen), forbidden to me by myself only. I loved watching my parents play, and I was more than welcome to try them out myself, but I just wouldn’t do it. I loved these games. I watched them, and while I never touched them, I still loved them. And then I began playing Pokemon Stadium, got a Nintendo 64, and I started playing on a daily basis.
So what became of the Super Nintendo? Well, one day, the sound in our TV went out in the port the N64 was using only. The Super Nintendo, with its cable connector, was spared this fate, and so we moved it, along with the TV, into the basement, while we got a new TV to connect all our new gadgets to, N64 included. Now, not only was the Super Nintendo not a scary thing anymore, but it was always accessible. While my parents watched TV and the N64 was off limits, I still had the freedom to play Super Nintendo games to my heart’s content. And so I started spending more and more time in the basement, where there was just so much I could do.
Like I said, the Super Nintendo already had a good collection of games, probably around twenty in total. The N64 never exceeded fourteen games, and at the time, it only had about three. And so, becoming newly acquainted to gaming, I would spend hours down in that basement, picking different games from the pile and just playing them. I slowly made my way through every game as far as my limited skills would allow; I’d play a bit of one, then, try something else. Some games lasted longer than others before I moved onto the next, but it didn’t matter if they were good or bad (and there were definitely some bad ones) because I just wanted to play. I suffered through Izzy’s Quest for the Olympic Rings and Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday. I beat most of my dad’s records in F-Zero. And I switched back and forth between the three Donkey Kong Country games, with DKC3 being the first I managed to beat, while the others were finished over the course of the next few years (I was really not very good at games back then).
Gaming became my own private getaway, and I played just for the sake of it. I played because the games were there, and I wanted to experience every single game that I could. And this lasted for years, during which my initial tour gave way to real attempts to complete as many games as I could. And so, while I have so many more options now than I used to, gaming doesn’t feel quite as special now that the magic is gone. But, that’s all right, because the love is still there. And that, dear readers, is how I began my life as a gamer, and I never plan on there being an end.
And so, if I could have my own gaming crate, well, without worrying about being realistic, I would want that old TV again. A Super Nintendo and a big pile of games. The Donkey Kong Country trilogy is a must. I’d want all those gaming manuals I used to read through. And goldfish crackers. I once did a marathon of Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday, the first (and only) time I beat that abomination, a span of time that lasted several hours and was accompanied by goldfish crackers. While that happened fairly recently, it still had the feel of the old days because I had decided to play a bad game simply for the thrill of beating it. Now that would really bring back the feel of the good, old days.