Do you remember the first game you ever bought? Not a game that your parents bought for you but the very first game you bought for your self. Do you remember why you chose that game? What influenced your purchase? These are questions I asked my self when I began to think about how we as gamers have evolved over the years. The first game I ever purchased was also the same time that I purchased my first console, the SEGA Dreamcast. I had owned previous consoles but this was the first one that I bought on my own. It was exciting because I did it on my own. The first game I bought with the system was Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. I didn’t buy the game because I followed it through development. I didn’t buy it because my friends said it was great or because it received rave reviews from a game magazine. No, the reason I picked it up was because the box art looked cool and the synopsis on the back sounded neat.
When I arrived at home to sit down and play I couldn’t stop. I was thrown into the wasteland of Nosgoth as the fallen vampire Raziel, with vengeance on my mind. It was open world hack and slash at its finest. The game was loaded with plenty of weapons and abilities to keep me entertained the whole way through. The mechanics were smooth and the story kept me drawn in. I would have never known had I not taken a chance on Raziel as the Soul Reaver. The innocence of my game knowledge and the abilities of a great cover artist led to what is probably the most influential purchase of my gaming career. Without playing that game I might not have seen the magic that is this hobby, job or lifestyle that we love. Things have changed a lot since that night over 10 years ago.
Following my purchase of the Dreamcast I began to further explore the gaming world. As each new gaming platform was released I learned more about what it takes to build a work of art in motion. I also became more reserved about what I spent my money on. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the disposable income but rather the fact that I found my self wasting my money on games that weren’t worth my time. I quickly learned how much effort it took to make a quality title. I read magazines, talked to gamers that knew more than me and suffered through some bad games. If I didn’t see this effort going into a game then I didn’t even give it a second glance. I found my self buying fewer games and loosing interest in the hobby because I was becoming too picky and I had been burnt by some bad titles. Nothing seemed to fit my taste or meet my high expectations. I passed up on so many games because I didn’t like what I saw as they went through development. Did I miss out on some good stuff? Probably, but I was young and thought I knew it all. After the Playstation 2’s prime had passed I took a break from gaming for a couple of years. That’s when the Xbox came into the picture and I decided to try my hand at gaming again.
In my break from gaming I still kept up with the goings on even though I no longer played. Most people that take extended breaks from it probably do as well. I had heard about Microsoft putting their hat into the mix so to speak and thought it was a bad idea. I couldn’t have been more wrong. While the system started out slow, the Xbox gained traction with titles like Halo, Crimson Skies: The High Road to Revenge and Splinter Cell. The portfolio of games that were on the system was diverse and good. After years of holding out on my true passion I went to my local game store and bought the big black box.
My first experience filling the role as the legend of this generation, Master Chief, was phenomenal. It was the best game that I had ever played. I was a tank on the battlefield against an unwavering enemy. Halo gave players a sense of honor and duty in a mixture of sprawling plains and tight corridors. Bungie, the developer, had me hooked all over again with a beautifully crafted game.
When I bought the console they also sold me a subscription to something called Xbox Live. I had no clue what this was except that I could play with other people over high-speed internet. The only game I had that supported Live multiplayer was Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge. The 1940’s stylised aerial combat simulator was another fantastic purchase. It was fast paced and played extremely smooth with tight controls and online connectivity that worked without a hitch. It was also just damn cool. Microsoft had brought the excitement of the arcade to my couch and then they gave us Halo 2. They had taken the amazing singleplayer experience from the original and added an online battlefield like no other. Many sleepless nights were to be had destroying one another only to do it all over again the next evening. So, once again, I was hooked on gaming. Xbox live had turned me into a multiplayer gamer. I didn’t care about the story in games anymore. I just wanted that rush of beating another person and having companionship with like-minded people. It led to me only buying a game that supported Xbox Live multiplayer. Yet again, I missed out on a lot of awesome games. I had a full friend’s list of cool guys (and girls) that I would play with almost every night until the next generation of consoles arrived.
The Xbox 360 was the first console of this generation to be released and I didn’t buy it. I stayed with my classic Xbox until the Wii came out. I had become a family man and decided that the Wii was a better fit for me. We played with it for a bit but I quickly learned through research and being in the flow of information that there was nothing coming to the console that made me want to continue to play on it. The only titles that I enjoyed were first party releases such as the ever amazing Zelda and Mario. My family didn’t share my love of gaming either and the console turned into a dust collector. It was definitely time for a change. The itch for multiplayer gaming was creeping back under my skin and I found my self hunting around for someone willing to trade for an Xbox 360.
It didn’t take me long and the magic that had been missing for so long was back. I was back on Live and having a blast with my friends. The experience that is being delivered to me now is above and beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of in a gaming platform. It has changed the way I approach gaming yet again. No longer is gaming just a group of people playing games together at night. Now it has grown into a social networking giant. Many of the people I game with I consider great friends that I can go to when the need arises. I am more involved and active than ever before in the community and culture that surrounds gaming. I still make educated decisions but I will also play the questionable games. I don’t want to miss out on a game because a couple reviewers don’t like. It would’ve been a shame when it could be a hidden gem most people would overlook. If I can take a chance on a game and find that gem then I’ve given a little back to the community. No longer do I only play the multiplayer aspect of a game. Instead, I enjoy both singleplayer and multiplayer in tandem. The stories that are being told through the gaming medium these days are not to be missed. They rank right up there with what is on the silver screen.
At the end of the day I love gaming. I love experiencing every aspect that the hobby has to offer. Maybe one day it will take me further in life. It has brought me to this fine website to write for you guys and I’m grateful for that. I’m sure that my gaming habits will continue to evolve but for now I’m quite pleased with the gaming world. I would love to hear your story too. Feel free to send me a message on Twitter or leave a comment with your story.