Everybody has their secrets. For some it’s putting lipstick on a ripe grapefruit to practice personal make-out skills. For others, it’s dressing up the family cat in Early American colonial gear at the kitchen table while snapping Polaroid’s of Whiskers for the scrapbook.
For me it’s gaming. Yes, I play video games.
I’ve been a gamer since I was a young kid, when I discovered Nintendo. Nintendo’s been a part of my life ever since. I’ve even learned life lessons through its games and characters. Mario taught me patience and perseverance through his constant pursuit of saving Princess Peach. Princess Peach was my first crush. Luigi displayed unconditional love by his acceptance of being the side-kick to his brother Mario’s b-team.
So, hearing this past of mine, it’s no surprise that the day the Nintendo Wii came out I was in line at the local Toys R’ Us. It turned out I was number 61 out of the 65 Wii’s available at this specific location. The employees counted us off and whisked us into the unopened store, in front of the 200 people now gathered behind us.
The chosen 65, that’s how I thought of us.
The process only intensified my excitement of getting my hands on the Wii. I was suddenly eight years old again, looking at my first Nintendo resting under the Christmas tree. 30 Minutes later, I walked to the car with my very own personal security guard while dangling the Wii from a bag in front of the masses. I was elated.
They shouted, “500 for it! 550!”
I was instantly in an auction. But they didn’t have a chance. I was holding a piece of history and I was one of the chosen 65. Didn’t they know that?
I played the Wii absorbedly and often, for a while. Over the next few weeks I played through the newly released Legend of Zelda and Mario Galaxy. These were both new modified games of their older versions from my early years.
It was fun, but something was different. I began feeling creepy and bizarre.
Then one night, it hit me all at once. My girlfriend had walked in on me. I was in the living room at 3 am shaking a white plastic stick in the air while gyrating intensely, mimicking an invisible Hula Hoop on my television. Seeing myself through her eyes, I felt the ridiculousness of what I’d been doing.
The realization of the weird feeling rushed into me. I felt embarrassed. I had been feeling embarrassed even before I knew I was feeling it. I just hadn’t realized it until she caught me in the act. I know it could have been worse, but still.
I was now a grown man playing games with fuzzy-little-cute-characters named, Pikachu, Digimon, and Pokemon. I didn’t have to be playing these games anymore. But that’s all the Wii is now. It’s now a gaming system incorporating adorable characters with names resembling a sneeze and looking like Teletubby’s.
I thought about it further. I was sick of the sucked dry story line of Mario and the Princess. How could she still be getting kidnapped by the same monster? I’d been saving her ass from Bowser for half of my life. And is Bowser even evil anymore? In Paper Mario he’s part of Mario’s team!
Nintendo wasn’t making games for me anymore. The Wii gamer is now a 10 year old kid or a middle age house wife, playing Wii Sports with parents. But I think that’s great. I’m not mad about it. Good for Nintendo. They have sales numbers that are staggering. I’m just not one of their numbers anymore. I don’t have dentures lying on top of the new copy of AARP while being visited by the family on Sundays.
I’ll move on. I just don’t know why I didn’t see it sooner.
Anyway, the day after I was caught dancing in circles waving plastic sticks in the air, my Wii went on Ebay. That same hour, I put a bid on an Xbox 360 and won. It came in the mail four days later.
I was amazed. I was now playing games that were not specifically family friendly. No more puffy creatures bouncing around with inane names. And if there were, I now had the option to pull out an Assault Rifle or chainsaw, disposing of them to the bloody slop they didn’t deserve.
The creepy feeling was gone. I was now an adult playing adult minded games, with adult strategies; a gamer reborn.
So I’ve put the Nintendo part of my life to rest. Sad, I know, but maybe not forever. It’s not like I’ll never play the Wii again. I’m sure the next time I’m in need of a Karma refill and head down to the local senior center, the Wii and I will unite.
When I hold the plastic stick and challenge Mr. Jenkins to a wholesome game of Wii bowling, I’ll get a different feeling inside me. It’ll be like seeing an ex-girlfriend after years have passed. You once shared so much together. You knew each other so well and still possibly do. Standing face to face, both of you silently acknowledge you’ll never have back what was once there. That’s just the way it is. It’s every soap opera plot line melted together. So when that day comes we’ll agree to be friends, the Wii and me.
I was recently caught by my girlfriend again playing games very late. But this time was different. I was half way though a six-pack of Bud talls while screaming into my headset at a high school kid in Texas about politics.
I’ve come so far.