There are photos of my father holding my brother in his arms while he focuses on the television – his hands on a Nintendo controller. I started “playing” as soon as I learned to push buttons, and then really started playing once I realized that two controllers meant Dad needed to switch to a two-person game. I grew up watching and playing Duck Hunt and Super Mario Brothers. I remember one night when my father spent what seemed like hours on the phone because of Zelda. Before computers, there were magazines and a number you could call to get help with tough parts of the game and so he was sitting on the phone one night with some videogame expert, trying to figure out how to get something or go somewhere in the damn graveyard.
Then in 1998, we got a Playstation, and soon I was addicted to Tomb Raider, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, the “demo” games that you’d somehow end up with and you could play a scene, and, of course, FIFA, with the best theme song ever. My Dad would still play soccer occasionally, but unless he hid it, he seemed to lose interest, or not have time, to play games anymore, but I kept going and Ned joined in too (once he realized he wasn’t “playing” – yes, of course, I played the same trick on him). My neighbor gave me a computer game (once we had one of those) called The Messenger that was about the history of the Louvre, and I’d sit for hours trying to solve the puzzles, throwing myself through worlds that were foreign to me. I beat that thing too – and it was an accomplishment. Those games weren’t full of killing. Laura Croft barely drew blood at that point. They were mostly challenges, riddles, at least the ones I was playing.
I never was obsessed with video games, though. I never was a gamer. It was just something else to do – something to do after all of us neighborhood kids had been outside for five hours already. At the neighbors, they had the newer Nintendo so I got to play Sonic and DonkeyKong, and eventually, Mario Kart. It was something to do on a Sunday morning, or when it was just crappy and raining outside in March. When we were home sick from school we could play a game instead of watching The Price is Right and Maury.
I wanted to be Laura Croft, of course, especially when she turned real and became Angelina Jolie. I remember her picture on a page of a newspaper while I was down in New Jersey at my aunt and uncle’s house, and wanted to be her for Halloween – the tough girl from the video game with guns. Badass. I was twelve. I look back and honestly wonder what would’ve happened if I knew Comicon existed. That Halloween costume never happened, unfortunately. I could never get it good enough. It was around that time the GameBoys came into play – I never had one of those, though Ned got a later version of one. Instead, we’d all take turns with our cousin’s up at the farm. Letting the sound of Mario play loud through the living room so everyone knew when you died and your turn was over.
Then came the PS2 and yes, we even got a WII. Now Rami and I have a PS4. Right now he’s sitting next to me playing Assasin’s Creed. Recently we’ve both taken turns playing through Horizon Zero Dawn (we beat it) and Uncharted and I got him a previous Assasin’s Creed for Christmas one year – and happily sat and watched and played a bit. Before he sat down he turned to me.
“Are you going to be offended if I play my game for a bit,” he joked. “Am I that husband that sits and plays his games all day and ignores you,” he smirked. If I wasn’t writing this I’d be playing with him. So really, I’m just like my father in this aspect too – the thirty-something that’s still playing videogames, though I think its better because I play with my husband – and I can look up how to get past a level just by typing in a search on Youtube.