Jonathan's Story - Memories of Gaming
A Gamer Story by Jonathan Poole
If there is one thing that the media is excellent at achieving, it is blowing everything out of unwanted proportion. That is, for years it has been widely accepted that video games do little more than corrupt the young mind. It is only recently, within the last decade or so, that video games are obtaining the positive recognition that they rightfully deserve with, for example, numerous studies suggesting various cognitive and emotional benefits. These benefits include (but are not limited to) amelioration in basic visual processes, attention and vigilance, as well as improvements in executive functioning (efficient problem solving and decision-making), and reversing mental decline that inevitably accompanies aging. What’s more, the video game industry is outperforming both the music and film industries combined in revenue and profit (something the media would have never believed, say, two decades ago).
Despite the initial negativity towards gaming (and gamers), I have been lucky enough to grow up with video games all throughout my life, beginning, of course, with the now classic Sega Genesis. Honestly, the majority of my fondest memories of gaming (such as bonding with my brother), I remember as if they were yesterday (that alone proves the massive positive impact that gaming has had on all our lives). Of course, as is the case of anyone with a Genesis, I had all the classics including Sonic the Hedgehog (1, 2 and 3), Eternal Champions, and X-Men. That said, two highly vivid memories of mine in regard to the Genesis just so happen to be on my birthday and Christmas.
Concerning my birthday, my father decided to take my brother and I to Toys “R” Us and gave me the opportunity to choose any gift I wanted. Now, of course, being myself I sprinted towards the electronics departments in hopes for a new game to add to my ever expanding collection. I even recall there being a demo station for the newly announced Sonic 3D Blast. Needless to say, I was not impressed - I longed for the classic Sonic formula. This gameplay just seemed far too foreign to me and, because of this, it would be years later until I gave the game a proper chance. Now, the game that I did end up choosing, however, with my father’s encouragement, was one that I cherished for years to come. It was none other than Street Fighter II. Similarly, and I recall this being my favourite childhood Christmas, I received from my parents Sonic & Knuckles (I was ever ecstatic to continue playing the classic Sonic formula) while my brother received Comix Zone. Despite being released at the very end of the Genesis’s lifespan (the Sega Saturn had already been released), Comix Zone was a massive accomplishment and still holds as one of my favourite games of all time. Little did I know at the time that the Sega Genesis would be the gateway console to my love and passion for video games. As another birthday soon approached, my mother took it upon herself to, once again, bring me to Toys “R” Us, giving me the opportunity to choose any gift my heart desired. At this point it may be quite obvious what my mind was set on - video games! I left the store that day feeling like the happiest child in the world (something that movies have never accomplished) because I had just acquired my very own Gameboy Color (lime green, of course) with a copy of Pokemon Yellow! I can say with pure confidence that Nintendo managed to increase my love for gaming tenfold and from this day forward I was team Nintendo (or so I thought). With this in mind, my next purchase was The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and, just like that, Zelda had (and still to this day) become my favourite franchise of all time.
Fast forward to grade 4, Nintendo 64 was currently the most sought-after console by children and I knew I needed it in my life. My mother knew that I wanted (needed) it because I would never stop talking about it. To my surprise, as a reward for my end of the year accomplishments, my parents took it upon themselves to purchase my brother and I our very own Nintendo 64 with two very crucial video games - Ocarina of Time and Mario Kart 64. Without a shadow of a doubt, my fondest memories of gaming were with the Nintendo 64 (I literally had no other care in the world, gaming was basically my life). I acquired all the classics such as Majora’s Mask, 007 Goldeneye, Resident Evil 2 and, of course, WWF No Mercy.
Nevertheless, as is the case with any new technology, when you see someone else have it, you want it! Arriving in high school, despite still adoring my 64, I felt that I was missing something in my life - Playstation 2. As was our usual routine, my brother and I asked my mother for one and, low and behold, Christmas 2003 we finally obtained what we longed for with none other than Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City, and WWE Smackdown Here Comes The Pain. Nintendo 64’s No Mercy ignited my passion for wrestling games and I was essentially addicted. A few years later, I took it upon myself (with my savings) to rekindle my love for Nintendo and purchased a Nintendo Gamecube with a much needed copy of Twilight Princess.
From that day forward, I owned (and still do) every console and handheld that both Sony and Nintendo have released. Regardless, it goes without saying that as one gets older, spare time to pursue the hobbies and passions one loves becomes increasingly difficult and time constrained. Still, that will never eradicate one’s memories nor will it prevent the realization that video games have and will continue to inspire and be nothing more than a positive force in one’s life, both cognitively and emotionally and, thankfully, the world is beginning to understand and come to terms with the fact.
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