With the release of Skyrim: Special Edition this past Friday I’ve been feeling quite nostalgic. November 11, 2011. Five years ago Skyrim was first released, and it was quite an interesting time in my life. Two to three months before the game was set to come out podcasts began going up analyzing trailers, game play, and interviews with the developers. I would stay up till midnight or later each night “doing homework” listening to them. I was completely lost in this game and I hadn’t even gotten my hands on it yet. It was the only midnight release I ever went to, with Rielen Anton and I think maybe Nathan Wandler and Ryan Melle. I can’t be too sure though, my memory isn’t quite what it used to be. Shocking, I know. My first two days with the game I put in 18 hours. Now you either had one of two reactions to that and it tells a lot about who you are. Either, what the hell are you doing with your life? Or, dude big deal I had 20 in two days with *insert game title here*. This was the beginning of me identifying more as a gamer than athlete without me really realizing it at the time. Shortly after I began watching everything Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty (then IGN now Kinda Funny), read countless game reviews of games I never intended to play, and watched E3 along with other gaming conferences religiously. Of course I had been playing games for years up until this point and my history with gaming has definitely been a major factor in defining who I am today.
Really it was 2001. Christmas of 2001 to be exact. This is one of cloudiest memories I can recall, yet it’s still somewhat there. My older brother (I think) gave me a GameBoy Advance with a Spyro game. Now at this point I’m six, and not a clever six year old. I never got past the early stages of that game, but it was the first game I ever played so it still holds a place in my mind. In early 2002 we moved to a new house and my older siblings left behind their N64 when they left for university. This is where gaming took on new meaning for me, with my brother living in Edmonton I basically saw him once, maybe twice a year if I was lucky. Thus I began playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time just like he did. I was a stupid little kid though, I couldn’t figure out what to do. It quickly became my way of connecting with my brother, we’d play a bit every time he came home. When he wasn’t there I’d run around the world, get to the next dungeon and then leave it alone for months, knowing I’d pick it up the day before he was set to come home just as a quick refresher. This went on for a few years and I don’t think I ever actually beat the game. However if you were to ask me what my favorite games ever were, it’d always make the list due to what that time meant to me. Other games I played during that time were Mario 64 (another game I was too stupid for), Mario Kart 64 (the reason my younger sister stopped gaming with me), and Tetris Attack (Super Nintendo). Let’s talk about this one for a bit. First off if you haven’t played Tetris Attack you need to. It is superior to regular Tetris in every way. In fact I thought that’s what Tetris was so when my girlfriend in high school wanted to play with me I went in expecting that and was disgusted with what I actually got. Haven’t played Tetris since, garbage game. I was also playing a ton of wrestling games and GTA: Vice City at my buddy Tanner Doiron’s house. My parents wouldn’t let me play anything above T rating at this point, which brings me to my next era of gaming…
During this time I started spending a lot of time playing games with Dylan Harty. We played Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald on GBA but more importantly he introduced me to Halo and Halo 2 on Xbox. This was late in the Xbox’s life cycle but I didn’t know anything about the industry yet. Remember, stupid little kid. Alas, I bought an Xbox thinking I’d be playing Call of Duty and Halo just like all my friends. Psych! For a second I had forgotten what house I was living in. A stringent catholic household. My parents eventually loosened their grip but now was not the time. I can’t even tell you what games I owned for the system other than NHL 06 (which I played nearly daily), Madden NFL 08, and Mercenaries (an open world, faction war game). There was the UN, South Korea, China, and the Mafia? You worked with each faction taking missions to kill North Koreans. Had to push for that one, but it’s rated Teen Mom! My siblings had always been Nintendo kids before me and I now understood why, they had good E rated games. This was probably my biggest misstep in my gaming past. I know I had at least thirty games for the system and I can’t even remember more than three. Wait, that’s a lie. I sunk hours on hours into Star Wars Battlefront II, probably the saving grace of my investment.
After coming off the Xbox I wanted to get back into Nintendo. So me and my younger sister purchased my brother’s GameCube with Mario Kart Double Dash, Super Smash Brothers Melee, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Those three games alone were enough to keep us entertained for countless hours, we even took it traveling with us in the van. With both of us in sports at this point we traveled a ton so it got a good amount of five inch screen time. It might have been a bit bigger than that, but not much. Still a TV screen in our van, we were living the high life bro. This Incredible little machine completely rejuvenated my fandom for Nintendo just in time for the Wii. Motion controls? That sounds so cool! The Wii had already been out for a while at this point and I honestly can’t remember if it was Christmas 2009 or Christmas 2010 we received a Nintendo Wii with Mario Kart and Mario Galaxy. Two incredible games, the only two. We also got tickets to go to DisneyLand, which was the much better gift, though my face doesn’t show that in any of the pictures my parents took. Unfortunately I was in my ‘I don’t fucking care about anything’ stage and even had a mohawk when we went. You’re so sick bro. It wasn’t my parents fault the Wii was an absolute joke of a system. I even bought Call of Duty Black Ops on it. Nintendo fucked all of us fans real hard and sold out to the casual market. That’s why even your grandmother owned one. Now there’s gonna be some Nintendo fanboys who disagree with me and are gonna point to it’s sales as a counter to my argument. I’d actually point to the sales figure as supporting my point and throw in it’s pathetic attach rate (how many games per system purchased) as more support. It was an anomaly, they captured the casual audience, similar to mobile gaming. Casual gamers aren’t going to support your software, they’re fickle. Nintendo thought they struck gold though and doubled down with the Wii U. We all know how that turned out. Fool me once Nintendo, but I digress. In 2011 we went to Toronto to visit my brother in his tiny ass apartment. That’s Toronto for you, expensive as hell. So with six of us there we all slowly started to go insane. The only way to curb that for me and my sister was to play games. My brother had a PS3 at the time and with it Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. My sister and I instantly fell in love and we agreed we were splitting the price for a PlayStation when we got home. This about brings us back to Skyrim, though that’s not quite where my story ends. Four days after Skyrim release Assassin’s creed Revelations released with a download link for the original Assassin’s creed. Now I had played some multiplayer at my friend Jackson Wenzel’s house and had loved the stark difference between the usual death match that had plagued online games since COD’s rise to power. So I jumped in and loved both the original but more so Revelations. Similar to how Nintendo screwed me so did Ubisoft I was sold on the series and then they come out with AC3. Garbage, just absolute garbage. Ubisoft lost all my good will, and then I regrettably purchased Watch Dogs for PS4. Once again, garbage. But I’m jumping way ahead, I guess recalling all the poor life choices you made has that effect. Stupid kid. Our PS3 really became an escape for me. My relationship with my parents hit an all time low during this time and I can remember multiple days, weeks even where I wouldn’t leave my basement except for school, basketball and to eat. It was my own fault though and I knew that. Looking back I’m sure my parents had an idea what I was up to way before they ever caught me. Games were my escape, my stress release, my world in a way. I was going to school, getting high, going to practice, getting high. It was a viscous circle and the only time I didn’t feel the need to smoke up was when I was gaming. The worlds I went to in games kept my mind occupied.
As you may or may not know I only spent one year in University. Not shocking since some of my most vivid memories are staying up till 3 am playing GTA V after tripping at my buddies dorm room. Games were no longer enough to keep my mind at bay. I look back at that time and really just feel disappointment. GTA V may be one of my favorite games of all time, it really is incredible. However, similar to Ocarina of Time, what was going on in my life effected me more than the actual game itself. Because of that I have a real foul taste in my mouth whenever I think of GTA and don’t know if that will ever completely go away.
After dropping out I moved in with my two best friends and we all split a PS4 and TV. I’ve had incredible experiences with the machine including Destiny, Shadow of Mordor (My only platinum), and Overwatch. This spring/summer I also beat Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us. Each and every game leaves a small mark on me and teaches me something about myself. However, I’m not the same kind of gamer I once thought I’d always be. I’m not the same kind of person I thought I’d always be. During high school I was putting in anywhere between 15 and 40 hours a week and was on for at least a little bit every day. Now I would guess I’m somewhere between 2 and 15 hours a week and go days at a time without playing anything. There’s multiple causes for this, fitness being the biggest for sure. It’s a better way of spending my time and a better stress relief. When I first began blogging I really thought it would be mostly centered around gaming, and in fact almost gave my blog a gaming related name. Here we are 18 posts later and this is only the second one. Thank God I had some vision eh. Looking back gaming has been with me through every up and every down. It helped me create great friendships, escape reality, and yes even learn some problem solving skills. I’m still not sure whether or not I’ll jump back into Skyrim as I’ve already put about 300 hours into the original game. It’s vast for sure, and I’ve been craving a good non linear, create a character experience. However, I’m sure The Elder Scrolls VI will come out next generation so I could just wait. Probably won’t though, stupid kid.