Saturday, December 24, 2005

A night before Christmas

Everyone that has read my writings for any period of time should know by now that I've been a video game player for a good portion of my life. For most people, remembering their first experiences with video games wouldn't be a big deal in any way, but for me games were always something special. Games always took me to places that I didn't think I would ever be able to go. They told me stories about far away places, but the best part wasn't just the stories, it was the fact that I was the hero. I was the person that was running and jumping and saving the princess. I wasn't just another kid sitting alone in his room playing with his toys. I actually meant something to the characters in these games and it made me feel special.

On Christmas Eve 1987, I received the first gaming system of my own. My family had owned some other systems before that point, but this was the first time that I had a system of my own.

When I was growing up, my sisters and I were told that each Christmas we could ask for 1 big gift. For months we would scan through the Sears and JC Penney's catalogs and evaluate each of the items on the toy pages and agonize over the decision of what item we would put on our list for that year.

One of the worst and, in this case, best traits that I have is that I can be incredibly naive at times. On that particular Christmas Eve my naivete led me to the most surprising Christmas gift that I have ever received.

The evening began with a normal holiday meal, but after dinner my family decided that it would be a good idea to videotape the gift opening festivities for the evening. I didn't think anything of it, seeing as how we had just won our first video camera a few months before; it just seemed like the sort of thing that most families would do on a holiday. What I didn't seem to understand was the fact that my sister was only following me around the house with the camera.

After everyone had opened their gifts, I recieved my last gift, a small package. Confused, as I often was and still am, I opened it delicately and found that it had a riddle contained inside of it. The riddle led me to another room in the house, where I found another package, which contained another clue, which led me to another room, and another and another.

Never once during this whole scavenger hunt throughout the house, did I have any idea what I was being led towards. I would open each of the packages, read the clue, and then move onto the next one. Finally, after multiple difficult riddles that I had to solve, I opened the last package. "It's behind the couch," was what it read.

I walked into the living room and walked over to the couch and found a long rectangular box approximately 2 feet by 1 feet, by 6 inches behind it. As I began to pull back the paper, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. For a moment in time, I actually thought that my parents had played a cruel trick on me and had somehow obtained the box for the item, but something else was inside of it.

"You've got to be kidding me," was all I could say as I opened up my Nintendo Entertainment System. For months, I had gone on and on about how much I wanted one and somehow my mother and Dennis had gotten it for me.

Over 50 million people got an NES system before Nintendo stopped selling them, but I doubt that anyone had an experience nearly as special as mine when they got their system.

Ever since that day I have been a Nintendo fan. I have friends that have mocked me for my "alliance" with a company that doesn't put out the best looking or the hottest games, but for me my feelings for Nintendo go much deeper than the hardware or software that they put out. Whenever I see Mario or Zelda or Samus on my TV or handheld system, I think about opening the box for my NES on December 24th, 1987 and remember how special my parents and Nintendo made me feel that day.

Nintendo's next game could be a Mario plumbing and pipe cleaning simulator, but I know that I'll eventually end up buying it... not for what it is, but for what Nintendo meant to me as a kid and for what that memory means to me today.


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