Monday Memories: New Genres

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

Have you ever thought of how you were introduced to certain game franchises that you continue to play today? Or how they may have shaped your gaming preferences over the years? That’s what this Monday Memories is about.

Video Games | Genres | Simulation | Sims | The Sims | Sims 2 | Doublexjump.com

While I don’t remember how exactly we got on the topic of Sims 2, one of my managers from a previous job — my job that I had probably about ten years ago now — mentioned how she had nearly every Sims 2 expansion at the time. I had heard of the games but never played them and she offered to let me borrow them.

Color me surprised when she came into our next shared shift with a giant garbage bag filled with these boxes of expansion packs that had about two to four CDs worth of programming in them. I cannot remember how long it took me to install every CD that she had onto my computer, using the key codes to ensure that they were legitimate copies and all that fun stuff. Pretty sure I did not have enough time to actually play the game that day before everything was installed!

Once I did start playing the game, I was hooked. Creating your own characters, building houses, and essentially playing God was amazing. Before Sims 2, I had never really played many simulation games. Really, the games I mostly played were RPGs or adventures with a bit of platforming thrown in here and there. Not having a definitive story in a game was a foreign concept to me, as most of my games have end goals. Some weren’t as definite, no — such as the difference between Ocarina of Time’s endgame to, say, Harvest Moon games were the goal is simply to have a thriving farm — but there was always something to reach for in them.

Sims 2 basically threw me a digital dollhouse, complete with cheats and mods crafted by brilliant people, and said, “Have at it.”

Sims 3 eventually came along and I jumped on it, being just as much in awe — if not more than — of it as I was of the Sims 2, and Sims 4 has been great fun as well. The simulation genre of games has evolved into one of my favorites, with me enjoying games such as Game Dev Tycoon and Tomodachi Life. I’ve even gained more of an appreciation for the Animal Crossing franchise. Harvest Moon games are arguably simulation games as well, yet the later ones became gimmicky enough with quests and stipulations to further the gameplay that the Sims series was refreshing.

It also went hand-in-hand with my writing. In the Sims series, I’ve always been able to create my own characters with personalities and quirks, watching them react to each other and giving me ideas on how the characters can interact in my stories can be insightful to my writing.

To think, this love of a video game genre started with my manager delivering them all to me in a garbage bag.

What game started an appreciation of a new genre for you? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Monday Memories: Ace Up My Sleeve

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

Technically, this memory is only about three years old. This post is a bit more personal and it took me a little too long to write and decide to share it. However, I believe it’s an important topic and it is certainly something that has shaped who I am today. 

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I am passionate about representation in media, obviously including video games. Gender, race, and especially sexuality need to be represented so they are normalized as much in media as they are in the real world.

The success of movies like Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel testify to the need of representation. The same goes for the later Pokemon and Harvest Moon games that allow female and darker skinned avatars. One of Stardew Valley’s biggest selling points was that your avatar could marry any love interest despite their gender.

It was due to a video game that I realized my sexuality.

Three years ago, a visual novel dating sim featuring the popular YouTubers from the groups Normal Boots and Hidden Block was released. Considering that the two groups were some of our favorite content creators — and the ones who inspired us to talk and share more of our love of gaming — we were excited about the game, and really enjoyed its the writing, art, and music.

One of the characters in the game is gay. He states it after the female avatar asks him to go to a festival with her. Literally, he says, “You do know that I’m gay, right?” complete with the music cutting out with a record scratch sound effect. The character is a fan favorite and was prominent in the fandom through art and stories.

It was through this fandom that I found out about asexuality, the absence of feeling sexual attraction.

I was in my mid-twenties and had never heard of this sexuality. Throughout high school, I’ve had friends and acquaintances who had come out as lesbian or bisexual, and we were always supportive of each other. I had believed I was completely straight, but as I got older, I realized I wasn’t looking at men the same way my friends were. They had… interesting stories from their college campuses about being with another and I couldn’t for the life of me see what the appeal was. I had fallen for a couple of men throughout my lifetime, ones that were easy on the eyes and made me laugh, but I had no interest in any more physical acts.

Then Asagao Academy came out, I met some fellow fans online, specifically Tumblr, and the representation of a positive LGBT+ character helped so many teenagers and young adults, people who had grown up without seeing much of anything other than the “default” straight way to be. Including me.

One day, someone I followed mentioned that she believed she was asexual. I was surprised at how relieved I was from the epiphany I had that the word asexuality fit me. It was closure that I never knew I needed.

I am a heteromantic asexual.

Asexuality is still a fairly new concept — rather, new in the sense that it is being talked more about — but it has gained rapid support within the past couple of decades. Despite this, asexuals still get flak both from the LGBT+ community — for wishing to be “special” or, especially in a heteromantic ace’s case, “basically straight” — and straights who are not allies. We’re only about one percent of the population, and it wasn’t until 2013 that asexuality was excluded as a mental illness in the DSM.

I spend my time advocating for representation in media and by being available and open to those who may need the support of a friend. I’ve connected with a handful of others online, ones who have reached out because they took a chance from seeing my LBGT+ positivity posts. I’ve spoken to fellow aces, transgender people trying to figure themselves out, and those who merely needed a stranger to listen as they navigated through their own labels. Most, if not all, of them are teens, and I hope that I can help just a little.

Because, while my memories of going through puberty consist of feeling like I was missing a puzzle piece, we should be moving forward with representation. There is no default hero, and all media — video games included — should showcase that. Strides are being taken, but it will still be a while before we’re all on equal footing. No one should have to grow up without being represented as the hero.

(Besides, think of all the years I spent unable to make asexual puns. All of those times I could have told people that I have an ace up my sleeve… because it’s me. I am the ace.)

Are there any video games that caused you have a revelation about yourself? Anything in particular that you would like to collect? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Monday Memories: Video Game Nights

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy 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.

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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.

Did you play a lot of video games with old friends? Did the games bring you closer? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around

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Connections

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It’s not much of a secret that Rachel’s favorite video game is Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64 while mine is Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for the SNES. Both of those games are dear to us, considering they’re both probably the games that we each picked up on our own when we were old enough to hold onto the controllers and read the stories.

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While this has been known to both of us for quite some time, we were talking about it the other night and realized how… funny? Coincidental? I don’t know… How weird it is that those two games happen to be our favorites.

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We both grew up with video games, taking on the mantel of gamer when our uncles, father, and older sister stopped picking up controllers. I had watched our relatives play games on the original NES before picking up games myself on the next generation console. Rachel did the same, having watched me play the SNES before playing on her own on the Nintendo 64. We were amused at how we each started playing a console generation apart.

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Meanwhile, the first game Kris played and beat on her own was Super Mario RPG while for me it was Paper Mario. Both games are similar to each other as Paper Mario isn’t a “sequel” exactly, but it’s still a successor of RPG.

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I believe, originally, Paper Mario was going to be a sequel to RPG, but there was a bit of an issue on some character copyrights. Still, I consider them to be in the same series, if you will, as both promote the role-playing elements of party members, overworlds, and — of course — the aspect of collecting seven stars.

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I’ve always loved watching Kris play Super Mario RPG, too. Then when Paper Mario came out… I still watched her play it first (I think) because I love just watching, but I fell in love and decided to try it for myself. And fell in love again. It’s funny how we love similar games, just one generation/console apart. If that doesn’t say “player one” and “player two,” then I don’t know what does.

Did you find this as fascinating as we did? What’s your all-time favorite game and/or the first game you ever completed on your own? Let us know in the comments below!

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Looking Behind and Ahead

Double Jump Kris MiiShow of hands, who thought the weekend went by way too fast?

Despite how quickly the weekend has come and gone, I hope everyone had a good one and an awesome week ahead!

This past holiday weekend I spent my time finally playing Pokemon Moon. I’m definitely enjoying it so far, having gotten past my third trial, and I’m severely missing the time off of work that I had to continue binge-playing it. Rachel and I will go into more detail about the games themselves once we both complete them, but I just wanted to share my thoughts about the changes going on in the franchise that I grew up with.

Diving into the gaming world for me was like Alice falling into the rabbit hole. I was full of curiosity and totally enamored when I used to watch my father and my uncle play video games. It was a story that you controlled. The characters were puppets to the buttons and I was amazed that you could make someone on the television jump just by pressing A.

A couple of years later, I was good friends with a pair of twins who fully introduced me to the world of Pokemon through Pokemon Snap. That year Mom and Dad got me my first GameBoy Color, complete with a trio of Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow games. For about twenty years, the handheld Pokemon games followed a formula that consisted of your character exploring a new world with new creatures to partner with in order to defeat the Gym Challenges, whatever evil team that was plaguing the region, and the Elite Four.

Pokemon Sun and Moon threw that formula out the window, and while I’m enjoying the games, I can’t help but feel as if I’m missing something. Perhaps it’s too early in the game for me to tell, or maybe I’m just feeling particularly nostalgic for the older games that I grew up with. It’ll be interesting to see if Zelda’s Breath of the Wild, with how it’s going to be shaking up the Legend of Zelda franchise, will affect me in the same way.

The NES mini recently came out to hit us older gamers in the gut with memories, while virtual reality is rising on the gaming scene. Now I understand when my dad, upon seeing the motion controls of Wii Bowling, started talking about the “good ol’ games” from the past, like the original Mario or Donkey Kong!

 

Regency Gaming

Double Jump Kris MiiWhile doing a little research for this post, I realized that there is apparently a site dedicated to gambling games also called Regency Gaming. This post is not about that particular store. On that note, I hope everyone has a great start to their week!

Ever hear of Regency Gaming?

Rachel and I took a little weekend trip just to get away one last time for the summer with our parents, and part of where we went included some outlet stores. In this vast mall, Rachel and I wandered around, bought a couple of new puzzles to add to our collection (four new Thomas Kincade Disney-inspired puzzles and a map of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth), and came upon a gaming store called Regency Gaming.

I have never been socked with so much nostalgia in my life.

The store wasn’t brightly lit or anything — rather, it was decorated in grays and muted hues, showcasing the video game memorabilia that adorned their walls, shelves, and cases. There were a couple of times as I was gazing at the SNES consoles and the NES games for sale that I asked Rachel, “Are you old enough to remember these?”

Most of her responses were, “Barely.”

It was a nice walk down memory lane, and if I had the money, I may have bought a few things just for nostalgic’s sake.

Of course, the store had a few newer products as well, such as chargers, gaming headphones, games from the most recent consoles, but the history of gaming was the main point of the place, and it was glorious.

Reminiscing

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy August everyone! Kristen here! With summer on its last month, I find myself reminiscing about fond memories of video game nights with friends when we were much younger and carefree…

Being an adult can sometimes be hard.

 

Despite my Monday post from last week about solo video games, there are definitely plenty of games that are best played with company. Fortunately I have Rachel as a ready-to-roll Player Two, but back in high school I used to be known among my friend group for running video game nights.

Let it be known that I was probably the nerdiest of my friends when it came to video games. Most of my friend group didn’t even own consoles, but they all had a fantastic time button mashing in Smash Bros. and throwing bananas at each other in Mario Kart while munching on my mother’s amazing chocolate desserts.

Then everyone kind of grew up. We had a few others here and there, but a couple of the friends were sometimes too serious in the pursuit of the level goals, bringing the rest of us down. Our game nights fizzled out until much later.

Rachel and I had an inkling to have an old-school video game night within the past year, reinvite some good friends, see how rusty everyone was in a Mario Kart game. We had a few new friends that we were planning to invite (such as the dude who is now our brother-in-law), mix and mingle the old with the new, see how everyone was doing.

But being an adult got in the way, and everyone just seemed too busy with family, work, getting married, taxes, things like that. Of course, paying bills and all is important, but I do get a bit melancholy thinking about those old video game nights. Rachel and I have spoken of what it would be like to be able to meet and have friends close by enough so we can have those video game nights again.

Perhaps one day we’ll be able to have and hook up all those console accessories that let us play more online games or even stream on Twitch. It’s a fun thought.

What about the rest of you? Do you all have a good group of gaming friends, or do you prefer solo games?