Sitting in a small room in southern California in the early 90’s, a boy was handed a controller. This controller belonged to a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), and with it came The Legend Of Zelda. Early on in the game you are handed a weapon, The Master Sword, and told what is now a famous text across all of gaming, “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this”. Reading this was the first onset to much time spent in that game defeating foes, solving puzzles, and seeking to save Hyrule. This was the first time a video game viciously robbed me of all my spare time. It was the first game that I thought about when I was not playing it, pouring over little details that I could remember so that I could figure out the next way to go, the next temple to find. Beating this game, accomplishing that feat would be the first leap into a lifetime journey through gaming.
The Evolution of Gaming
Starting my gaming lineage in the early rise of video games has been a rich blessing that I was not aware of until I grew older. Starting off with the NES, my next two systems were the Super Nintendo (SNES) and the Sega Genesis. Both of these consoles gave birth to countless classics such as, The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past, Sonic The Hedgehog, Final Fantasy III, Chrono Trigger, Secret Of Mana, Super Mario World, Terranigma, Turtles In Time, Street Fighter II, and many many more. These consoles helped to largely diversify the gaming landscape, transforming the idea of what home consoles could do and how rewarding and intricate the worlds developers created could be. Turn-based RPG style games especially saw a huge increase during this period, which quickly became my personal favorite genre of game.
The next generation of consoles brought the Playstation 1, the Nintendo 64, and The Sega Dreamcast. Almost more than the previous lineup of consoles, these ones brought with them new classics throughout their lifespans. Final Fantasy VII redefined how wondrous and engrossing a turn-based RPG could be with massive technical leaps. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time brought forth new and exciting ideas to 3D platforming and action-adventure titles, as did Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64, and Banjo Kazooie. Metal Gear Solid changed the idea of what stealth games could accomplish, with an engaging story and exciting, strange boss battles. Sonic Adventure created a 3D world for Sonic to speed through that is still fun to this day. Marvel Vs Capcom was my first crossover fighting title that would lead to another lifelong obsession with fighting games.
The next two generations of gaming started to shape and mold what the previous one had started. Games were becoming experiences not just simple fun tools. The technology had started to expand rapidly as did the console market. Nintendo and Sony released new consoles while Sega, after the poor sales of The Dreamcast, became strictly a publisher for their titles.
The Gamecube had its fair share of cherished titles like, The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker (Hmm It’s like all of them are amazing or something!), Eternal Darkness, Super Smash Bros Melee, and Metroid Prime. The Playstation 2 had almost too many phenomenal games to list and to this day holds the record for longest production of a console, which was 12 years! The PS2 released many games in that time across many genres including, Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3, The Devil May Cry series, Final Fantasy X, and tons more.
During this time Microsoft decided to jump into the gaming market with the original Xbox. That console had the first multiplayer experience that I leapt into since Perfect Dark for the N64, Halo Combat Evolved. That title helped jump start the first-person genre of shooters, as Microsoft was the first company to bring widespread online competitive gaming to home console owners with Xbox Live, which was made available for that games sequel, Halo 2.
After this console generations became shorter, and these companies are seeking to keep up with the graphical and technical advancements that are made available so often now. The PS3 and PS4 came to be as did the Xbox 360, Xbox One and three more Nintendo consoles including their most recent release, Nintendo Switch. Each one of these generations has helped raise the bar of what gaming is. Elevating it to newer heights where it becomes something more, something worth mentioning as an art medium, not just a toy or past time. Growing up while video games have had their renaissance has been truly unique. Having played all of these titles that have current sequels or successors today, gives me and others who had the same experience, a perspective that allows deep appreciation and understanding of just how far everything has come. Other things are maybe more comforting than anything else, like the fact that 30 years later Link still does not speak. Video games are always growing, always innovating, and each year it is a joy to find what new experiences await you.
Hoping to find more joy in something that has become more a part of you than you may realize. It has helped to shape who I am, what friends I’ve gained, and ultimately part of the direction my life would take. For that, I owe this wonderful digital lineage a lot.