Friday, December 16, 2005


For me, that moment occurred a week ago when Sarah took ownership of her first ever video game console.

When I first met Sarah, she professed herself to be a casual gamer. For anyone that was born in the 70’s that typically meant that you played some Atari and/or Nintendo games in your youth. So when she told me of her gaming background, I knew I would have some work on my hands in order to shape and mold her into someone that would not only tolerate my addiction, but would actually happily participate in it with me.

I knew that I would have to move very slowly if this effort was going to succeed, but if I was able to pull it off; my home could become an audio/visual paradise, a Nintendo Shangri-La if you will.

I knew I would have to begin with the basics. Sarah had told me that she enjoyed playing the Mario titles when she was growing up, so we started her with Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64. Having her jump from the 8-bit platformers of her youth and moving her to the newest generation of that type of gaming just seemed to be the natural way to go. Immediately she fell in love with the game. In fact, I think she even went so far as to obtain more of the stars, and complete more of the game, than I did. I was called upon to defeat Bowser in the final battle, but she did put in a monumental effort to get to that point, so I was happy to help her in completing the game.

After she was done with Mario, she moved onto Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon on the Playstation. These games were very similar to the Mario 64 style of play and she took them on with great gusto, but after a time she tired of them and looked to move on to another gaming genre.

“I loved Tetris,” she said to me and so I began again, looking for a new version of a game that she professed to love. First up was Tetris Plus on the Playstation. So many hours were spend playing this game and solving the puzzles contained within, that to this day we still mimic the Macaw-like woop of the victorious professor when he found his treasure. After that version of Tetris she began to play Tetrisphere for the Nintendo 64, an incredible underrated adaptation of Tetris played on a 3D sphere. Hours upon hours were spent playing multiplayer battles against one another with Sarah, more often than not, bettering me on a consistent basis.

Just as a side note, when you’re a gamer, there is nothing sexier than a woman beating you in a game. When a man beats you, you’ll throw the controller and scream for blood. When a woman claims victory, you’ll probably need some “special” alone time.

After Tetris had run its course I decided that it was time to try and introduce a new genre of game into Sarah’s repertoire, the RPG. One of the things that I found while having Sarah try all sorts of different games was that “twitch” or fast action games were never going to fly. So, it was natural to move on to turn-based role playing games. Sarah could dictate the pace of the battles and could stop at any time to look up a hint, if one was needed, to continue. It became clear, very early on, that games such as Final Fantasy wouldn’t fill the bill as there was too much micromanagement to be done and that there were far too many options to make the game interesting to her. Thankfully Nintendo stepped up to the plate and delivered Paper Mario, a cartoony role playing take on the Mario games of yore. Sarah defeated the game faster than I would have thought possible and was ready to move on.

Next up for Sarah was Jak and Daxter on the Playstation 2. This game was made by the same developer as the original Crash Bandicoot titles for the Playstation and Sarah fell in love with it quickly. With my help, defeating a few of the more difficult bosses, she finished the game and even went so far as to obtain every orb and get the “special” ending.

Sarah took a bit of a break from gaming while she was attending school to get her nursing degree, but once she started her job at the hospital, she found that she needed some help staying up on the nights that she wasn’t working. That was when I introduced her to the Gameboy Player for the Nintendo Gamecube. With that device she was able to play some of the old Mario games that she loved, as well as another new RPG, Mario and Luigi. After a few weeks she had played until she reached the final boss, whom I sadly couldn’t defeat for her, and she took another break from gaming.

That takes us up until a few weeks ago. I sent Sarah an email with a link to Nintendo’s new webpage for the upcoming Mario and Luigi role playing game that would soon be out for the Nintendo DS, and even though she hid it well, I could tell that she was excited for this new game. The only problem was that I was enjoying some of MY new Nintendo DS games and I wouldn’t be willing to leave MY system home during the day. The solution was an obvious one; Sarah would have to have her own system.

Christmas came early to the Haag household this year as Sarah “bought” me an Xbox 360 and I returned the favor by buying her an electric blue Nintendo DS.

When she registered her system and began to play her new game, I knew it was a special moment. A few days later she told me, barely able to contain her pride, that she had defeated the first boss in the game without any help from me; a tear welled up inside my eye. I knew I had taken this girl from her humble gaming beginnings and have helped to develop her into a woman that I’m certain will be sending me the following instant message some day.

“DING. W00T! Level up.”

On that day, I won’t be able to hold back my tears.

Your moment of Glen

7:00 p.m. Gaby goes to sleep for the evening.

Temperature outside: 30 degrees Fahrenheit (22 with Wind Chill)

Decision to be made: Do the meager bit of shoveling that is left after the plowing service has completed the driveway or do something else.

Decision? Play Guitar Hero for 2 1/2 hours. P.S. I rock!

9:45 p.m. Done playing Guitar Hero(for the evening.)

Temperature outside: 24 degrees Fahrenheit (15 with Wind Chill)

Decision to be made: Do the meager bit of shoveling that is left after the plowing services has completed the driveway or do something else.

Decision? Turn on Xbox 360 and begin downloading movie trailers that I've already seen, but this time watch them in 720P on the HDTV.

10:20. Done watching movie trailers (for the evening.)

Temperature outside: 22 degrees Fahrenheit (12 with Wind Chill)

Decision to be made: Do the meager bit of shoveling that is left after the plowing services has completed the driveway or do something else.

Decision? Spend an hour conversing with my friend Bill via email.

11:20. Done emailing with Bill (for the evening.)

Temperature outside: 18 degrees Fahrenheit (8 with Wind Chill)

Decision to be made: Do the meager bit of shoveling that is left after the plowing services has completed the driveway or do something else.

Decision? Freeze my stupid ass off shoveling and de-icing part of the driveway at 11:30 at night when my dumb ass could have been outside for 10 minutes when it was 15 degrees warmer earlier in the evening.

There it is, your moment of Glen.