I’ve been playing games now for the better part of two decades. Much of my early experiences were dominated by the first Sony PlayStation, as was the case for many people growing up in the 90s and early 2000s. Some of my earliest memories are of watching old VHS tapes of Blue’s Clues and Madeline…as well as watching my Dad play through the first four Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games and my brother, the Crash Bandicoot series. I remember being astonished not only by my father and brother’s level of play and the seemingly impossible amount of co-ordination and skill it took to play well, but also by the low-poly worlds that were careening by on a small, square television set.
My first memories of actually playing games for myself, however, came later, when I got my hands on a not-so-legal copy of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I don’t even think I played the missions. I just ran around the city, seeing how far I could push the limits of the sandbox – doing stuff like downloading a trainer, activating car invincibility and heaviness and then flying down the motorways at extreme speeds.
Speaking of extreme speeds, the Gran Turismo series comes to mind as well, thinking of some of my earlier gaming days. With insanely detailed graphics and near-perfect car physics simulation, it was a petrolhead’s dream. However, the only game I ever played from said series was Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec. Sure, I played it and enjoyed it, but I couldn’t quite handle it and found myself spinning off the track with alarming regularity. Besides, games like the Ratchet & Clank series were more my speed.
As you may have surmised so far, the PlayStation lineup of consoles dominated much of my childhood and formulative years, in addition to Nintendo consoles like the DS and the Wii, with the DS providing fun little games on the go and the Wii (and the PS2’s EyeToy) providing a glimpse into an augmented, virtual future for gaming.
In recent years, much of my time still contains Sony and Nintendo’s influence but for me, they have been largely sidelined by the PC, with great titles like the Half-Life series, Classic Doom and online games like Team Fortress 2 taking up more of my time than ever, as well as mainly PC-centric communties like the modding scene. And even though you couldn’t say that my current “”PC”” was built for anything more than basic editing work and spreadsheets, I’ve managed to find ways to run these games on my system despite the burdensome hardware and financial limitations.
Other than my history in games, my play-style and ability is hard to pin down and is very contextually based. For example, in a game like Tetris DX, I think I can play it quite well, having played it for dozens if not hundreds of hours at this point, being able to perform tricky maneuvers and pulling high-score attempts back from the brink of disaster. But I’m still learning and improving at the vast majority of titles, both inside and outside the game by learning to aim better, and learning to control my temper better.
I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m actually really glad for that: it means I still have plenty more hours of gaming left in me.