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From Commander Keen to Candy Crush: The Deevolution Of My Gamer Status

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(image cred: ebaums world)

I’ve always considered myself a gamer, but I’ve realized that definition has changed drastically over the years. My journey from childhood to having a child of my own has driven me from gaming on a keyboard and mouse to my iPhone. There has been a serious deevolution of my gamer status and now I question if my lengthy history counts enough to keep that title alive.

Basically what I’m saying is babies ruin everything. Just kidding.

When I started to list out all of my favorite games it seemed my gaming preferences paralleled major life events. And I bet if you take a look through your over-flowing closet of cartridges, you could say the same.

But my oldest, dearest friend, the one who started my affinity for the wondrous technology that would sucks years out of my life without leaving any traces of regrets, all started with the Atari 2600.

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(image cred: Den of Geek)

I was first introduced to the console at my babysitter’s house. She had a few games like Pong and Pitfall. One of which was incredibly boring and the other was infuriatingly difficult, but I was completely hooked. I remember I couldn’t wait for Saturdays so I could play the next game or try to beat my last score.

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Not too long after that my Dad brought home our first computer. Aside from learning how to navigate DOS and the wonderful world of AOL chat rooms, I began collecting PC games. I was a platform gamer before that term even existed. I spent many fun filled hours playing titles like Commander Keen, Monster Bash, Duke Nukem, and Wolfenstein. I can still picture the layouts and textures of those levels too, like how you remember all the nooks and crannies of the house you grew up in.

On a side note, while I was battling worm-like aliens and zombies, my Dad was playing his first flight simulator game. Those games would continue to nurture his passion for aviation until he received the gift of flight lessons and eventually became a pilot in real life.

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(image cred: Dumee Gamer)

I arrived at the NES party super late, but it totally solidified my unpaid career in gaming. Super Mario Brothers, Rad Racer, Kid Icarus, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Duck Tales, Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors , TMNT…omg all the games! The graphics at that time were mind-blowing. And my Mom couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just “put the game down” when I had finally figured out “the maze” in Bowser’s castle and needed to beat the game. Save points weren’t even a thought back then, but thank the gods for cheat codes and Game Genie.

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(Image cred: Game Fabrique)

For Christmas one year I got a Sega Game Gear and played Sonic like it was my job. Finally, I didn’t have to share the TV with my little sister and I could game as much as I wanted while still pretending to participate in family time. It’s amazing I didn’t go blind with the tiny 3.2 inch color screen though.

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Then sometime in high school, consoles like Nintendo 64 and Playstation released fantastic co-op games and it once again changed my life style. I finally had a chance to be social while gaming. Since I was one of the few female gamers in my group, I was an instant, sought-after teammate for games like Tekken, Bloody Roar, Soul Calibur, Golden Eye 007, and Unreal Tournament. I used to go to the local arcade and put quarters on the table for Tekken Tag then hustle my afternoon away. Actually my first job was a game attendant at a sportsplex so I really did spend all my waking hours around video games.

When the first  Rock Band/Guitar Hero (it’s all the same to me) came out, I almost decided to get a real drum set based on my “mad skills.” Seriously though, I broke 3 pads on 2 of my sets plus one of my friend’s sets. Some of my favorite memories with my friends are the crazy hours we spent of rocking out with plastic instruments.

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(image cred: Play Buzz)

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(image cred: Nintendo Life)

Then I finally got a PS2 of my own and the first game I bought was Ratchet and Clank. To this day, this has been my favorite series ever and I proudly donned the title of “platform gamer.” This was during a time of my life when I was living in an abusive relationship that would end up dragging on for years. This game, along with Kingdom Hearts, allowed me to escape for hours into incredibly imaginative worlds. These games prevented nights that could have been spent on the bathroom floor in tears. They were so much fun and so time consuming and they saved my sanity.

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(image cred: Ratchet Wikia)

After I started my new life, I met my husband, an avid PC gamer, and he brought me back to my roots. I never mastered the controls for games like Battlefield or Call of Duty, so he agreed to play “non-shoot-em-up” games with me. Portal is definitely my all time favorite co-op game. The script was hilarious and the puzzles were challenging enough for both players to really get involved. Terraria on the other hand left us to accidentally play for 7 hours without saying a word to each other – he was busy building a bridge to nowhere and I was digging through the seven layers of hell apparently.

With the Uncharted series, we coined the term “back-seat gaming.” It was one of those game where although he was holding the controller, we could both solve puzzles and find hidden objects on our giant flat screen. For geeks, quality time spent gaming with your best friend can truly strengthen the relationship. Through many of the co-op games, I was really able to be myself and comfortable because he was so nice in situations where I died a lot. I mean, not like that ever really happened, but the games never turned into a frustration or a fight. I realized that after hours sitting desk to desk, he was my best friend. Even the super weird games like Antichamber helped us to learn how to work together and be surprised and amazed by each other’s ideas. Brain power is super sexy.

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(image cred: Entertainment Buddha)

So sexy in fact that we got married and had a baby. A wonderful, adorable baby human who is the boss of all our free time. Now my gaming experience has been reduced to playing iPhone games in the bathroom which is the only room on earth I can be left alone these days. I now frequent games like Bejeweled Blitz, Peggle, Trivia Crack, and I’m even too embarrassed to reveal the others installed on my phone. Sure I can blame it all on the baby. It really is his fault I don’t have time for gaming. But the truth is, I don’t know what kind of gamer I would be now, if I had more time.

I’m sure I would buy the latest Ratchet and Clank or Kingdom Hearts, knowing I can just hit save whenever I need to. But when I miraculously have some free time outside of the bathroom, I’m playing my old favs on either consoles or emulators. Nowadays I have more fun playing games like SSX Tricky and Gauntlet.

Regardless of time, I believe I have gamer blood running through my veins. And I always will. Even though most of my gaming time includes racing against the clock to select matching gems, I could probably still kick ass with Ling Xiaoyu taunts or Jin Kazama combos.

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(image cred: wirebot)

How has your game play changed over the years?

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"Making Smart Look Adorable." Check out all of Rielly's geek girl musings on her site riellygeek.com. And for a daily geekery and pop culture fix, she also blogs for Nerd Approved, Fashionably Geek, and That’s Nerdalicious.
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  • It’s funny but my gaming life has increased significantly after having 3 children. My husband and I were always gamers and we said that we did not want having children to change this about us. Starting Confident Gamers and having games to review helps ensure we continue to play. But also buying and getting games we want is still a part of our life. And it helps significantly that all three of our kids from 2-6 years old are gamers.

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