I've always been both gay and a gamer, though I didn't explicitly acknowledge myself as either until well into my twenties. Though this post will focus almost exclusively on my metamorphosis into a bona fide gamer, undoubtedly my love for games and my gayness are inextricably intertwined. Both heavily involve guys, both involve somewhat of a stigma, and, for me, both involved a long process of "coming out." But my love for dudes is really a story for another time.
As for gaming, where do I begin? Probably with this: Behold. The Intellivision. For those of you too lazy to click the link (I would probably be among you), the Intellivision is a video game console released by Mattel in 1979. Over 3 million Intellivision units were sold and a total of 125 games were released for the console. By the time I was cognizant of, well, basically anything, the Intellivision was a part of my life. I assume that my dad bought the system for himself while he was in college, but I ultimately used my powers as a child to commandeer it for myself. Playing some of these games comprises a handful of my very earliest memories as a kid.
I even recently discovered -- while doing research for this post, actually -- that the Intellivision introduced me to my very first incarnation of Dungeons and Dragons. I remember loving the game, but I had no idea that when Jules, Alex, John St. John, Mitch, and I started our real-life D&D campaign in August, I actually had some familiarity with the concept.
The Intellivision, for as big of a piece of a junk as in retrospect I'm sure it was, lasted until the early '90s. Because my parents were apparently slow on the technology upgrades, it wasn't until about 1991 that I discovered the NES. Plus, to my horror, my parents sold the Intellivision at a garage sale for which I will never forgive them. I became instantly hooked on all things Mario. Though, shamefully, I have never once beaten Super Mario World, I feel like I played it for the better part of the early '90s. (The combination of the amount of time spent playing and the lack of victory is surely a tell-tale sign of a child with a severe learning disability). My increased devotion to video games probably came about for three very important reasons: (1) Nintendo is clearly awesome, (2) my mom had just had my sister, thus ending my nearly nine-year reign as an only attention-spoiled child, and (3) we had just moved from a small city in West Virginia to an even smaller, more horrible city in West Virginia where I didn't have many friends at first. I delved into the video game world out of boredom and a need for a virtual, more fun reality.
With the advent of Nintendo came several other amazing gaming staples of my early life. Who could forget classics such as The Paper Boy, Whomp 'Em (even young Luke loved racial stereotypes), Tetris, Heavy Shreddin,' and Beetlejuice?
Then came Super Nintendo, and thus also came my first love. The game that likely shaped me more than any other, and forever transformed me into a true gaming nerd, was Super Mario Kart. I was particularly obsessed with battle mode, and friends and I would laugh to the point of tears as we spent hours stalking each other with red shells in the four (then amazing) stages (though the ice stage was whatever). Almost nothing in life could possibly be more satisfying than that SNES sound of an opponent's balloon popping after a high speed, high stakes pursuit in Cocoa Beach.
I've subsequently gone on to love almost every version of Mario Kart since, with the exception of perhaps Mario Kart for Game Cube (which likely is only a result of being a college student who was more interested in drinking than playing video games during the height of the Game Cube's popularity). Since Alex and I began dating, in fact, we've hardly gone a single day without engaging in at least one fierce match of Mario Kart Wii. I've even commissioned my good friend David, otherwise known as Korean scum, to draft a version of a Mario Kart Wii blue shell for my first and upcoming tattoo. It's not only super nerdy, but because of my long-term love of the game, it shines as one of the few representative icons in my life that, no matter how dated it becomes, will always mean something to me.
And with that, Jules is here World Of Worldcraft-ing in the other room, and Alex needs a lift from a Magic tournament. Part II will follow in due time, and I will totally annihilate that bridge when I come to it.
TO BE CONTINUED . . .