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Yep, it has happened already. It's autumn – the leaves have changed color, and it's truly something else when fall is at its peak in New York. The breezes carry that unexplainable “fall” smell that brightens up my eyes. It's a comfortable atmosphere at a time when I'm sweating over midterm grades and English papers.
However, all I really want to do is go back into my dorm room, boot up my laptop, and talk to hundreds of people I truly do not know, and personally do not care to know in the case of most of them, on an online forum about video games.
Doesn't make a lot of sense, I suppose.
That's because I'm forum nostalgic – every single year, just as fall is reaching its peak, something in me decides it wants to make me return to all the forums I used to frequent on a regular basis back when I was younger. Throughout the year, I never have this feeling; I spend my time on websites I travel to each and every day, and I don't really feel much of a connection to any of them. But once Halloween starts to become routinely mentioned by many, the switch is turned on. The forums that haven't been given a glance all year now have my full, unadulterated attention.
But of course, this is routine, because though I find myself logging into these sites around this time of year, by the time Christmas rolls around I'll be neglecting all of those same sites once again until the very next fall.
As much as I don't want this to be an origin story, you must understand that forums do mean a lot to me. They became the driving force of my huge love for video games that I still have today, and that can be said for many people just like me – being able to converse with people that have the same interests as you just by simply typing out a message and leaving it for anyone else to see.
That's how I started out, just wanting to be a part of the masses that made the internet their second home. I started out on the Nintendo Nsider Forums, the now-deceased message boards that Nintendo moderated themselves. Housing thousands of members, staff, guests, and more, the site was always active with Nintendo discussions on franchises like Metroid, Mario, and all the rest, as well as multitudes of contests that could net you exclusive gifts, signatures and avatars, even full games that would arrive to your door in the mail. Needless to say, I was mesmerized.
It felt like an adventure. I was an elementary school kid taking on the world with my somewhat-decent vocabulary and undeniable love for Nintendo games. I was probably a huge Nintendo fanboy at the time, though I would never admit it. I never owned a gaming system that didn't have the Nintendo logo on it until I purchased an Xbox 360 in 2007 just so I could play Halo 3. To this day, that 360 is the only non-Nintendo console I own.
But then, something happened. And this happens to most forum-goers. I no longer was satisfied with just becoming part of the community, I wanted to be known. I wanted to be part of that particular forum community in a big way. I wanted to enjoy more than just being a member. And not only that, but I wanted to expand myself, too.
So, when as I began to establish myself more on Nsider, I joined up on other forums, as well. One of the first was The Karters Klub, a terribly-named Mario Kart DS clan myself and another forum member established to become a dominate MKDS group in the Nsider realm. Like many other forums, TKK was one of those forums that only existed because of the huge entity that was Nsider. All of its members were Nsider members; all of its operations were based off of Nsider events and being a big name on that forum. However, though I had high expectations, it quickly fell off the map due to poor activity.
Still, my adventure was slowly growing in size. During my reign in the TKK, I began to establish myself as a top reviewer on Nsider's Review Board, posting quality pieces on new DS and Wii games that garnered the attention of the higher-class reviewers that would constantly praise my writing style and opinions. I contribute a lot of my love of writing to this particular time in my life, as I churned out reviews by the week that would catch the eyes of even Nsider staff members.
My self-proclaimed “dominance” of Nsider continued to grow as I posted my reviews and shared discussions on my favorite boards like the Metroid and Smash Bros boards, as well as participating in contests regarding the DS and Wii platforms. I won several “Review of the Week” and “Post of the Week” contests; my contributions to the FanFiction board were timeless; weekly Nsider chats were always a great time when I logged in and told some memorable jokes and took some jabs at fellow reviewers.
Over the course of about two years, I became the member of many other forums, but Nsider was always my home. And when those forums would close down due to inactivity and the like, I could just sign back into Nsider and everything would be back to normal.
However, that routine would end in September of 2007. Just as I spent my first days traversing another ring-world in the boots of Master Chief, Nintendo unexpectedly gave the entire Nsider community a warning that in one week, the forums would be closed for good. All the memories I had shared, the people I had met, the accomplishments I had made, were locked in that site and now it was going away.
When the day finally came, the weekend was a scramble for the community – within hours, a completely new site rose from the ashes under the name Nsider 2. The fan-made forum was meant to be a complete copy of the original Nsider suite, trying to keep the same feel of the original. And for most people, it did.
Not for me, however. I could tell there was a difference. The site didn't have any “weight” anymore. Nothing I did mattered. I could post a new review on Nsider2 , but it wouldn't matter as much than if I posted it on the original Nsider (now referred to as “oldsider” by most of the veterans today). I didn't have the drive to participate anymore. I signed up and regained my original Nsider rank and post count, but I quickly lost interest and by November of that same year, I was a ghost.
I had lost the entire reason for going to Nsider in the first place. I didn't join to be a top reviewer or a top fanfic writer or even a premium member of the forum. I joined to talk about Nintendo games and have a good time. When I signed up, I was more concerned with talking about how Metroid Prime was the best game for the Gamecube and how Animal Crossing bored me (it still does, to this very day, mind you). But when I left, when it was all over, I felt changed. And it sucked.
Something died in me, as much as that's weird to say, but it's the truth. I had bonded with people I never knew, and will never meet, honestly. They were a mix of people, some my age, some younger, some a lot older. I probably made friends with people that are into their thirties now, but nonetheless they were just user names to me. I had a blast during Camp Hyrule, one of the most glorious events on Nsider to take place. I became part of the Writer's Workshop, giving my critiques to people's reviews in hopes of establishing a better writing community. My contributions to Metroid discussions were always the light of my day.
So that's why, as I sit here writing this, I have just logged in to Nsider 2 and have been posting around a bit. It's because I want those days to return but I know they can't. Since the demise of Nsider, my reviews have been few and far between, something that I've hated. I miss writing reviews, but it seems like if I write them, it won't matter as much than if I had them seen by the eyes of the Nsider community. Nsider meant a lot.
But here I am, on Nsider 2, with my old username posting away just like I had back in the day. All I want to do is discuss new game releases and share my opinions on the games I enjoy every day. The fall breeze is flowing through my window now and I can feel all of what I want.
What I fear, however, is that I'll lose this feeling. I'll stop signing into Nsider 2 because I just won't care anymore, and I don't want that. I want to review games again and post like I did beforehand and become a part of a big community like I used to be.
Nsider 2, however, is very distinct. And by that, I mean it's distinctly not the original Nsider forums. The user names I see across the boards are not the same; the Reviews Board is even a shell of its former self. The Writer's Workshop is completely gone. The Review of the Week contest is inactive. And I'm sure the Post of the Week contests have been done with for a while now.
Still, Nsider 2 is doing great. I appreciate what the staff does, to give a forum for all the Nintendo fans to talk amongst themselves and have a great time. All I want is to share that kind of feeling with them once more.
Nsider connected to a lot of my childhood – I wasn't the most populate person in my school, though I had a lot of friends. I was the starting goaltender for my ice hockey travel team, people knew I was skilled. But still, after a long day at school, I felt at home on Nsider. I could also get on the desktop in my living room and spend hours just browsing the forums, looking to add my opinion to whatever discussion I saw fit. The reason why autumn puts me in this mood is probably because I have a similar nostalgic effect with Nsider as I do with the holiday season and spending time with my family. Nsider was like another family to me, in a way. We spent Christmas together, too.
So now, here I am, a freshman in college, writing about online message boards. And soon enough I'll stop writing this and go about my day as if forums don't exist at all. But hopefully I'll sign back in on Nsider 2 tonight, just as I do on the other forums I naturally find myself on every day. As I was writing this, I ran into a good oldsider friend. He changed his user name, but I instantly recognized him when he mentioned who he was. I also found out that he attends Smash Bros tournaments just like I do and that we were at the same one a few weeks ago, him under his new user name and I under the one I have been using since 2009.
Maybe this connection will keep me around a bit longer. Possibly I'll write a review and post it on the Reviews Board, in hopes of getting a reaction like I used to several years ago. Several years…that's how long it's been; it's pretty crazy.
Fall, at it's peak, is amazing. Nature is at its finest and I appreciate every moment of it. But, it's times like these that make my love and joy for video games and the communities I am a part of immensely greater. I can't see myself leaving gaming ever in my life. I'll most likely die with a controller in hand. I see myself as part of the legacy that was Nsider, a person that grew up understanding the meaning of family and that, well, there's nothing wrong with getting home, logging in, and discussing the hardest game in the Metroid Prime series until your fingers ache.
And that's how it should be. At least, that's how I see it. Hopefully I feel the same way in a few weeks.
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