When I finally got around to reading the email that Jeff [Wilson] sent out to me I was in the middle of writing an article about platforming games; an opinion piece that naturally led me to pick a handful of my favorite platformers that have nothing to do with Mario. As I organized my thoughts I realized that I kept thinking about the wonderful years of my youth spent in front of a television playing video games. I thought about how important gaming is to me, and of the reasons why I still continue to pick up the controller, even after over two decades of playing.
I still remember my first. Afterall, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is a game not easily forgotten. The giant, cartoon stereotypes were incredibly eye catching and succeeding against its punishing difficulty required a sense of rhythm. From that moment on, I was hooked on games.
Fortunately, my parents had the level-headedness to enforce moderation. In the early days, I could only play the family NES on weekends. But we also got to rent a game every weekend (back when it only cost $1). When I wasn’t repeatedly renting Mega Man 3, this exposed me to the system’s increasingly expansive library. The blue bomber and the portly plumber cemented my love of platforming while the Gradius spinoff, Life Force, got me started on shmups early.
I was a geek before I recognized that I was a geek. I built model airplanes, robots, and even attempted to construct a rudimentary computer form a metal Band-Aid case and rubber bands. Hey, I was six years old and didn’t have a functional understanding of transistors, circuits, electricity, or technology. According to the lovely, wise internet denizens, I still don’t.