The Autumn colors outside have had me feeling somewhat nostalgic lately and I wanted to expand a little on my older piece about how video games influenced the different phases of my life. It is less common than you’d expect for a non-sport hobby to stay with a child into their later adult life. What is it about video games that allow them to stick with us on such a deep, sentimental level for so many years?
My earliest memory of playing a video game was an old computer game called Spelling Blizzard on dad’s knees as a child. I remember learning words by finding them and pushing blocks all over the place on the ice to make words, avoiding polar bears and holes in the ice. Magic School Bus, Carmen Sandiego, and JumpStart games also got plenty of attention from me at that age. Dad loved played them with me, too.
Many of my strongest memories are ones involving my childhood best friend, Brigitte. She always had the coolest new consoles and games at her house and we would spend hours upon hours playing games like Pokémon Stadium and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles together. We would even pretend to be Pokémon having a battle while bouncing on her family’s trampoline, calling out attacks and even making the Pokémon noises. You know, silly kid stuff. It was good times!
Like many in my generation, Pokémon Red was the first video game I remember owning. It was gifted to me by my maternal grandmother, an amazing woman I’ve written about before, along with my first gaming system, the Gameboy Color. The next year I snooped in the office closet for Christmas presents and discovered a Nintendo 64. My mother warned me that looking at the presents early would completely spoil Christmas, but she was totally wrong. This was the beginning of a lifelong journey exploring the single best storytelling tool in existence.
I remember begging my parents to take me to the store to get the sequel to Pokémon Red and having such a hard time deciding between Pokémon Gold and Silver, endlessly staring at the two boxes at the late Circuit City until they were ready to close. When Pokémon Crystal released in the following year, I was astonished and delighted by the option to play as a girl. It felt like I could be me in my favorite game and that was an extremely freeing sensation.
I remember my next-door neighbor (also my first crush) trading me his Scyther since I couldn’t find one in Goldenrod Park. I also remember my other next-door neighbor decidedly saving over my game file when I let her start a new game with the explicit instructions to NOT SAVE. She did. I’m still capable of giving a small rant about that over 15 years later. 100 hours of my life were gone like that. No, I never hold grudges. Why do you ask?
Then there was the time Dad and I went to GameStop to check out the next set of new Pokémon games and having my mind blown when he let me trade in my Gameboy Color and bought me a Game Boy Advance with Pokemon Ruby. I was SO excited. Briggitte and I would lock ourselves in my room for ages playing together, trading Pokémon and working on solving the Regi-riddles. I can still hear the trumpets of Hoenn if I think about it.
So I guess where I’m going with this is that my childhood was like a skipping stone on water, hopping from one fantastic adventure to the next.
Post or comment prompt: These are some of the strongest memories I have of my childhood. What were yours?
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