Photo by Alexander Jawfox

From Zero to Gamer

It’s a cold Canadian Christmas morning in 1996, and after a particularly packed evening prior of cokes and cookies (the alliteration will mostly stop here) I’m up from a mostly restless sleep to use the potty. I say potty here because in 1996 I was admittedly just exiting a bed wetting phase and committing to the use of a bigger boy alternative. Anyway. I exit the loo and immediately head into the living room where, to my delight, Santa has conveniently delivered presents to my siblings and I. Nice. Somewhere in this modest pile of gifts would be a box that would set in stone my destiny. And in the box a device that would change every second of my life for that day and every day that followed. I present to you… blows off the dust The Nintendo 64!

If you haven’t guessed by now we’re doing one of them rambles I do… if only a quick one.

My parents had likely imagined the Nintendo 64 as a toy for me. And while it was, it did something that no one could have predicted. It started teaching me things. At first the lessons were simple. In order to play a game you had to understand its controls. Thankfully in each box you would usually find a manual, and inside it pages that would describe everything from gameplay controls to helpful tips and suggestions. And once playing a game I discovered more reading: Character dialog. Instructions to complete a puzzle. A description for an item. The list goes on. More than reading lessons though, this machine and its games was teaching me to perservere in the face of failing to complete a level, to think alternatively when an obvious solution provided no results, and to use outside resources like guides to make progress if I ever truly became stuck.

Fast forward to 1998 and our family is now purchasing its very first home computer. Oh I remember that day well. I can remember the look on my Dad’s face when I started interacting with the computer for the very first time. He had long since known I was playing on the N64, but the way I seemed to command the new technology in front of him, especially for a young child, seemed to catch his eye. From some experiences in my school I had already known about computers, but it was really my playing with the Nintendo 64 that gave me the true command he was witnessing now. The new computer monitor was simply a television screen. The mouse and keyboard? My controller. And the computer simply a different kind of console! Even before the computer itself was unboxed I had become the resident expert on all things technology and I hadn’t even realized it yet.

It’s now decades later and I still reflect upon those early days often. The headstart given to me by Mom and Dad is something I think I’ll always feel grateful for. Being given access to the Nintendo 64 opened up so many doors for me it’s impossible to know the true scope of it. The reading comprehension, the countless hours of troubleshooting in game (and sometimes out of game) problems, using devices and accessories, upgrading components… things no other console has done for me since! Well, maybe the troubleshooting things part…

More rambles to come.

And check back soon for a mini review on a great forum I’ve been using lately called Universal Gaming!

Photo credits to Alexander Jawfox @ https://unsplash.com/@jawfox_photography

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