My most important gaming memory

I'm sure this or something like it has been posted before but I just felt like sharing and would like to hear some stories, anything is valid, I mean I know the reason I never tried World of Warcraft is because when I first tried it within 10 minutes some gnome came up slapped my ass did a dance, and ran off, playing Grand Theft Auto and Leisure Suit Larry secretly at a family party with my cousins. Pretty memorable but not what I'm getting at necessarily.

Here's mine. This will take a bit of build up to get why it's such an important memory, so bear with me.

So my earliest gaming memory is probably when I was 3 or so, sneaking out of bed and downstairs and crawling up on the couch to sit with my dad who had probably been working a 12 hour day, and was just trying to zone out and relax quietly. He handed over the joystick for our old Commodore 64 and let me play Pac-Man (probably terribly) until I fell asleep and he carried me back to bed. Great memory but it's not the most influential one, just telling it to say my dad was a cool dude, here's why. My dad died a few years later when I was 7, very sad I know, but this isn't a pity party, so I'll assume you can all infer the hole that leaves in a young boys life.

It was obviously rough on all of us, he coached my older brothers baseball and hockey teams, he was definitely the bread winner, at that point my mom was only working part time, Things got a lot harder without him. I have to say while my dad was cool, my mom was pretty incredible herself, she raised my brother and I on her own, never got remarried, never left us wanting, always tried to give us everything a normal family would have (this was the early 90's, I say normal because at that point family make up was not as diverse as now) vacations, sports, good education, and Christmas. So he died early in September, that first few months of the school year were rough, being shuttled around to whoever could watch us after school, teachers trying to be understanding, friends trying to be supportive but really having no idea what it even means, I got in a lot of fights and was going down a weird road.

Finally the semester ends for Christmas break, the first without my dad around. The way I'd been behaving, I should probably have been grounded for the whole break, but how's a single mom trying to start some sort of career going to enforce something like that? Now my brother and I weere practical kids too, we knew it was gonna be a slow year, dad made the money, mom was trying hard, but it was never gonna be the same. So Christmas morning we get to work, we're happy of course, Christmas is always fun even when you're opening socks, and underwear and shirts you'll never wear, it's nice to get a bit of Lego or something, but it's still not the same without him, my brother now the man of the house giving everybody a gift at a time and keeping things moving, till things are about wrapped up. But like the scene from A Christmas Story tucked in the corner were a couple more items, all in different paper than everything else had been, and the name tags said from Santa, even at 7, I new better, but it was still a little glimmer of magic. So my brother and I tear into it curiously, only to find a brand new SNES (at that point it was out for a year or so I think, it was a pretty massive deal still.) I'm sure I made the Nintendo 64 kid look like he was on Adderal we were so excited. We took that magical new box downstairs, and plugged it into that same monitor we used to connect our C64 to, and sat together on that same couch, and played Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, and one of the many EA NHL games together till we fell asleep, and kept playing for the rest of the break and for years after.

Things where never easy, but It got a lot better after that, I don't remember getting in much trouble after that, the few times I got into a fight or raised hell in my school life afterwards it was usually to prevent a bully or help a friend. Why get in trouble when I could go squash a Goomba I guess, I've never really analyzed it, maybe I just knew finally that things would be ok.

I still have that SNES, and those games, and to this day the only way my brother can beat me is with 3 red turtle shells.

So that's my most important gaming memory, what's yours?

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My Journey

So this is my first blog post and my super spoilery tale of my experience with Journey on the PSN, like Alex said in his review avoid this if you plan on playing the game.

I really don’t know where to start with this game, I went in with little in the way of expectations, but I figured I’d give it a shot.

The game starts with a very simple goal, and a simple means of moving forward to match. You are in a vast endless desert and the only real landmark in the shifting sands is a mountain with a pillar of light at the peak far in the distance. So you move forward, there are almost no controls to speak of, left stick moves you, one button emits a seemingly pointless chirrup. That’s it really.

As you move through the sand towards the mountain you’ll discover some rubble, and some torn fabric circling in breeze, when you approach it swarms you and adds the only other mechanic to the game, a jumping/gliding mechanism, and from there you perform some simple puzzley tasks to advance.

It sounds pretty unimpressive I know, but the game is stunning visually, the desert is better than the one in Uncharted 3, and for some weird reason the simple mechanics are compelling, you just sort of want to see what’s up ahead.

Then at some point you’ll see you standing off in the distance, you’ll turn a corner, or look behind you and there you’ll be. The multiplayer will have kicked in. You’ll have no real way to communicate with each other, just those chirps (which emit a wave of light as well.) and jumping.

For me we formed a bit of a teacher student relationship, s/he was rushing ahead and trying to jump up shortcuts. I kept pinging away drawing attention to glyph’s (they increase your jump time/distance) and triggers to advance the story. I suspect that will be different for everybody, You don’t even have to stay together apparently, and you can complete the game on your own, the only real benefit is that when you’re near each other your jump recharges.

However after a few areas of the game I no longer expected s/he to disappear on me it had become our quest, and we developed an ease of communication, it just became natural to ping each other and wave around getting each other’s attention when necessary. We learned to work together to recharge each other mid air to reach new areas and secrets.

It went beyond that though. At some point I lost half of my scarf (shows jump ability) and s/he would help charge me and boost me up to advance, there was a real sense of camaraderie.

Later on s/he was attack in the same way not once but twice, and I literally yelled at my tv in frustration as I watch his scarf sizzle away into the sky. Not at the game or at him, but because I was powerless to help him against the enemy.

Near the end as you climb the mountain you begin to freeze, the only thing keeping your scarves powered is huddling together to keep some sort of charge. Until at some point I blinked and my companion was gone, I turned to look down the mountain and I could see no sign of life, no pings, no jumps, nothing, I started walking back down to see where I could find him/her, stumbled and collapsed into the snow, freezing.

I sat stunned, but not upset, what had happened? Did we do something wrong? Was this the end? There was no way of knowing. But then the white became less dull and a cutscene emerged (they pop up occasionally) the deity/spirit creature that you meet along appears and then suddenly my scarf regrew longer than ever, and I triumphantly rise into the sky as the music swelled, still I was sad to be alone after so long, when suddenly swirling ahead of me among the friendly creatures we’d encountered along the path, pinging loudly and sending out waves of light was my friend waiting for me. We flew upward, floated among the creatures, rode on the backs of huge dragon like beings the whole time joyously pinging away at each other, and at the end, we sat down at the top of the cliff in unison like we’d known each other for years, we looked down over the world for a moment, then turned and headed towards the spire of light, and walked towards it side by side, until finally everything became a blinding glare.

I know it’s hard to believe, and it sounds cheesey, but I’m willing to bet that anybody who plays this game will feel some sort of emotional reaction, you will become attached, and you will remember the voyage fondly, moreso than just about another story you’ve been a part of.

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