Happy Monday everyone!
It’s a holiday where we are, and we’re hunkered down at home due to snow blanketing the ground outside. It was the perfect weekend to just relax at home with some hot chocolate and good video games.
When I first started gaming, I mainly played single-player games. Granted, I think back in the early 90s, when many consoles only came with two controllers, many of the games I picked up were only single-player. Aside from that reason, it was also because I was the main gamer in my family. I grew up watching my uncle play, but we didn’t play as much together when I started playing myself (mainly because, ya know, we lived in different houses and he was an adult with things like a job and taxes and probably some sort of social life that I never saw). There was some games I was able to rope my father into playing once in a while, and I remember watching my older sister play Super Mario Bros. occasionally but, until Rachel came along and was old enough to comprehend video games, I was on my own.
Thank God for Rachel, because if she didn’t get interested in video games, I don’t know if I would have continued playing. I adored the stories and the characters that I saved the world with when playing games, but it kind of sucked coming back to the real world and having no one to talk to about how you slayed the final boss with an epic sword attack to the head.
The majority of my friends weren’t into video games, or at least not as much as I was. The only console one friend owned was a Nintendo 64 and she only had Majora’s Mask and Goldeneye, and I’m pretty sure she only had the latter because of her love of the James Bond franchise. The former helped her understand some of my gushing of the Legend of Zelda series. Another friend shared my love of Pokemon for a while in elementary and middle school. A third friend was into video games almost as much as me, but it wasn’t something we spoke about too often. Video games wasn’t much of a topic among my friends, and I kept it as my own little hobby.
Until the Nintendo GameCube came out.
It was 2001 and I was eleven. Rachel and I probably got the GameCube for Christmas that year, and one of its first homes was in the kitchen porch, hooked up to the house’s smallest television. The GameCube library was one of my favorites from Nintendo, with one definite notable favorite: Super Smash Bros. Melee. It was because of this game that “video game nights” became a staple in my friend group throughout middle school and high school.
Everyone would show up at our house and take over the basement where the GameCube would temporarily be located and hooked up to the big screen television (thanks, Dad, for giving up your “room!”), and we’d all proceed to kick each other’s asses in Super Smash Bros. Melee and, when it came out, Mario Kart Double Dash. Pizza and chocolate were our diets for the night, and Mom loved the fact that we were all staying put at home instead of getting into trouble elsewhere. Even later, when the Wii came out, that console’s Smash Bros. and Mario Kart had a lot of hours put into them, even as we were all growing a little older.
I haven’t played video games with any of them since we left high school.
But remember that friend who only had the N64 with Goldeneye and Majora’s Mask? A couple of Christmases ago, she bought her husband a refurbished Wii with the sole purpose of getting Super Smash Bros. because of those video game nights at my house so many years ago, because of those memories.
I definitely miss those times, but video game technology has grown so much since I first became a gamer. While I may not be playing locally with old school friends any longer, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and game consoles these days, I am able to play with new friends in entirely different countries and that’s pretty damn awesome. Video games have become so much more than a hobby — it’s been the common thread between many wonderful friendships, both old and new, throughout the years.