Confessions of a former video game junkie

There are two things that should be apparent in my life. First, my family is a busy family. Second, I am a giant nerd. As a member of geek culture, I enjoy gaming.

However, as a side effect of the first thing I mentioned above, I don't have much time for video games. Or, I should say, I don't have as much of an opportunity to play. Not that long ago, I wasted a lot of time playing video games. However, my family never owned a console when I was growing up. I often felt like the only kid that didn't own a Nintendo. Video games never made it into my house until I was able to save up and but the original Playstation.

After that, it was game on. Back then, most of the guys I hung out with also owned Playstations. If we weren't playing nerts or poker, we were engaged in PS1 fighting tournaments, rotating between Bushido Blade, Soulcalibur, Marvel vs Capcom, Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, and Tekken.

However, it is the following ten games that has sucked away the most amount of my gaming life.

First up is this gem. 
As I mentioned before, my family didn't have an NES. But my friends who had Nintendos all had this game. I preferred Excitebike over Mario Bros because I kinda sucked at Mario. Excitebike was greater entertainment that lasted longer, especially with the feature that let you create your own tracks.

The summer after graduating high school, I spent a lot of time at the house of a friend that had a Super Nintendo. He had two games, Mortal Kombat, and DK Country.
Not only was I terrible playing Mario Bros, I generally sucked when it came to platformers in general. Donkey Kong was different. This is the first platform game that I beat without any cheat codes. For a long time, I considered that feat as my crowning achievement.

When I got the Play Station, this was one of the first two games I purchased.
Jet Moto was a crazy cocktail of jet skis, motocross, and the X-Games. At the time, I thought this was the pinnacle of video game graphics. I had never played a game that gave me such a sense of speed or placed that knot in my gut when missing a jump and my character fell into a bottomless pit.

This is the other game that I purchased with my PS1.
Biker gangs and road racing, with a little bit of a fist fight while cruising down the highway at 100 MPH. The crashes in this game were over-exaggerated and hilarious as the rider would be launched into the air, fly further than humanly possible, and finally plummet to the ground where it would roll and bounce like a rag doll. This game also had a killer soundtrack with songs from The Tea Party, Soundgarden, Sugar Ray, and The Mermen. Somehow, I even hoodwinked my dad into playing this game.

Then came the era of the X-Box and the standard-bearer of all FPS games.
This. So much this. This is the reason I got an X-Box. I can't even begin to count the late nights I wasted with Steve, Tommy, Nate, and Lance playing this. Or the hours battling my father-in-law over the home network. We even built a profile for Christian when he was just a couple of months old. Bekah made his armor pink just to tease me. The sequels have mostly found a way to improve upon perfection, but the first still remains the Halo I played the most.

The 18 year old version of myself that thought the graphics in Jet Moto and Road Rash were amazing would have had his mind blown by this game.
The grown up version of me found this to be the holy grail of racing games. Even IGN called it "sweet electronic crack." It removed the complexity from other racing games like Midnight Club or Need for Speed, but it kept much of the same excitement with the addition of glorious crashes and automobile carnage being an integral part of the game play. There was even a mode where the sole purpose was to see how much monetary damage you could cause in a single wreck. This game also featured an awesome soundtrack with Franz Ferdinand, Sugarcult, Ash, and Local H.

Do you have an iPhone? If you do, I can almost guarantee you got this from the app store.
So, um... yeah... I've played a lot of Angry Birds. I don't always play casual games. But when I do, I play Angry Birds.

The next game has displayed the concepts of the real laws of physics better than any game I've ever seen.
It's also crazy addictive and riddled with absurdist humor. My brother-in-law and I played through the full co-op mode of Portal 2 in a single day. Now I've gone back to revisit the first game again and again. This game also gave us a phrase that I'll occasionally slip into casual conversation: "The cake is a lie."

Another game that my bother-in-law and I started was this.
However, we got nowhere near finishing this game. It's just too big for one sitting. But the unique artistic style  of the game and the mashup between FPS and RPGs was genius. My father-in-law and I also played through a portion of it, and I finally played the whole way through in a solo campaign. Even after beating it, Borderlands has a high replayability that I've enjoyed.

The last game really needs no explanation but I'll give one anyways. Zombies.
The glurping of a boomer, the smoker's cough, the screech of a hunter, the rumbling of an approaching tank. These sounds have been welded into my memory. Those sounds still instill a sense of dread in me when I play today. There are a lot of Zombie games out there but in my mind, Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 are the best available. And the farmhouse level scared the snot out of me. Creepiest games I've played since the original Silent Hill.


Honorable Mention
Through most of my formative years, the arcade was a prominent feature in every mall. My dad would frequently take Aaron and I to the arcade in the Everett Mall to kill some time. Ms. Pac-Man was my dad's game of choice. Not me though. My ADD prevented me from being drawn to the same game over and over again. However, my pocket full of quarters never lasted as long as the lone quarter my dad dropped into the Ms. Pac-Man cabinet. Inevitably, my coins ran out and Dad would still be gripping Ms. Pac-Man's joystick. So I would watch. I didn't play much of this game, but countless hours from my childhood were spent watching my dad eat dots and avoid ghosts.

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