It’s surreal. I’ve been a gamer for nearly 20 years; as long as I can remember, I’ve held a controller in my hands. I remember playing Super Mario World on my SNES in my tiny duplex home as a kid and eventually getting a Nintendo 64 from a pawn shop at age 7. I enjoyed so many games when I was younger; Toy Story, Paper Mario, even Sonic the Hedgehog 2, usually when visiting a friend at his house. However, as I’ve grown up, I’ve forgotten my place as a gamer; my true reasoning for why video games exist.
I was about 12 years old; consistently bullied to the point where I had to leave the school, and I was on a mix of anti-depressants and anti-ADHD medication. I lost weight and didn’t eat, to the point of being malnourished, and contemplated suicide on several occasions because life just sucked in my eyes. Even then, I always went towards video games for a release; a way to escape those dark shadows that loomed over me. A way to forget myself.
One day, I went to the Toys ‘R’ Us during the boom of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. They were doing that deal where you could trade a Pokemon for a Lv. 1 Mew, to advertise something, maybe the movie that was releasing later? Anyways, they gave me this pamphlet, and on the cover was a little game called Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red and Blue Rescue Team. Immediately, I fell in love with the idea of being a Pokemon; “I love Pokemon,” I thought, “I want this game now!”
My easily-swayed 12-year-old self convinced my parents to buy the game as soon as possible. I remember rifling through the Nintendo Power magazine featuring that game, over and over again, until I got it. Keep in mind that this was essentially at the lowest point in my life; I was now being homeschooled and most of my school friends had left me behind. I was alone, but I chose to ignore it with games.
The moment I put the game in, I was smiling like a fool; I spent hours playing Rescue Team, and absolutely loving it. Then, the game suddenly got dark; I was banished from a place I once trusted and cared for, simply because I was a human-turned-Pokemon in that world. Soon, those dark thoughts came back, but…not before the game threw me a curve-ball. As I was about to leave, I was stopped by a group of Pokemon I had helped; and my partner never wanted to leave my side. As the music slowly swelled up to a somber, saddening crescendo, my partner and I left as a team, and I cried as quietly as I could to not worry my parents. I finally had someone I could trust, who could trust me, and that is a very powerful thing to someone like me with depression.
Many more of those moments would pass, and the game would stick with me to this day. Eventually, the sequel released: “Explorers of Time and Darkness.” This time, I would be 14 years old. At the time, I rented the game from Blockbuster, and I didn’t really even know the game existed before. Sure enough, the game was even better; there’s a reason I list it in my bio. It did exactly what the Rescue Team games did, but better. Explorers did exactly what a franchise should do; mature with the audience.
I realize now that the game went from “leave this world” to “cease to exist,” and that is a substantial jump (especially for a Rated E title), but back then, I figured it would end the same way; I’d be okay, right? As the game ended, I cried harder than I ever had, and it felt great to cry. It felt okay to cry over a game; something I had been told was not right to do about a few pixels on a screen. Again, the Explorers games would remain on my list to this day, and even writing this, I tear up a little when I think about it.
At that point, I grew up; video games had been deeply seeded as an entertainment media by 2008, so I was, of course, invested into knowing all the new games and such that were releasing. I remember seeing the premiere of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare on the E3 stage back in 2006, and how influential that game would become over the next few years. It’s these thoughts that made me realize something special; something I feel that I’ve forgotten while working at BlazeKick and becoming a Let’s Player on YouTube.
I am this way because of video games, and I’m honored to say that. I feel that it’s something that I, as a person, take for granted; now I realize it’s not just me, the same can be said to many people. This year, E3 2015 would have the Sony conference. I, along with Armando, Conor, and Brooklyn, watched the conference unravel into a work of art.
As Sony revealed game after game, the audience grew more and more excited, and as we watched Sony reveal The Last Guardian, a Final Fantasy VII remake, and even Shenmue III, I watched in awe as Sony essentially showed everyone what they wanted. It wasn’t until after the conference, pulse racing and eyes heavy from staring, that something clicked.
I decided to watch some reactions, and I was linked to the GameTrailers stream that happened live during the conference. I watched their reactions to those games going live, watching them go maniacal at the reveals. Chairs were thrown, screams were tossed about, and especially amazement at how a reveal could be hidden for so long were all shown live on stream.
I didn’t watch this stream until just a couple of hours ago and when Shenmue 3 hit the stage, that poor guy, second on the right, burst into tears. It clicked.
We, as consumers, take gaming for granted. We want only the best games, the highest graphics quality, and the most jaw-dropping stories that gaming has ever seen; and we should. Games should always aim to be the next level that other companies try to pass, but somewhere we forgot what gaming truly was about.
However, here are four people on-stream (with a couple extra in the back working on tech), and they are absolutely losing it because they got surprised about an FFVII remake, about Shenmue 3, and about The Last Guardian. Why? Because we want to see those games; those experiences that sparked our love for gaming, and see them get the attention they deserve. We want to see games get finished, to be better, and to be real. Now we get to see our childhood dreams come to life, finally after so long.
It’s surreal, really. Those games we all grew up with as kids, or we had that one friend who obsessed over that game, they get to re-live those moments with the games they love now. Yet…we forget that this is is a privilege of ours. We always demand these games, but we never say we need them enough. Look up the definition of “demand,” right now. We’ve devolved into a community of people that no longer say they need a game to be released any more. There’s no more “wants” or “needs,” there’s only demand now.
And privilege is a very tricky thing, go one notch too high, and you’re demanding. We as a community need to remember why we love games, and take it down a couple of notches. You don’t deserve these games; you want these games, and you need these games. I’ve seen first-hand how much games mean to everyone, and maybe now its time to realize that gaming is important because of our pasts; we need games to be influential and unique, and we need games to never be afraid to finish what they started.
We need games to make us stand up in our chairs in wild anticipation, and make us cry in excitement. We need games to create a wonderful universe and absorbing story that can keep a player invested for years while they wait for you, as a creator, to make their dreams come true; whether it’s one year, six years, 14 years, or even 20 years down the line.
I feel honored to have been a part of the gaming community for almost 20 years; video games have, ultimately, saved me from myself. Gaming is extremely important to keep alive, because it can save so many other people as well. It’s been a wonderful privilege to be a video game fanatic, and I’m glad I was there to witness millions of dreams come true. So, with the E3 conferences coming to a close and the show floor opening by the time this editorial posts, maybe it’s time to need a game instead of demanding one.