Each Sunday I’m working my way across the bookshelf to talk about my game consoles both new and old. Whatever comes into my head as a memory is what I am writing down. I’m having a nutritious breakfast of Hot and Spicy popcorn from Tastebuds Popcorn so who knows what the old brain is going to come up with! Today I have a few special consoles to write about.
PlayStation 1 Back in the 90’s I had a job that involved a great deal of travel. It involved a lot of travel time and time spent in hotels. I worked for a company that sold refurbished computers at trade shows, conventions, and fairgrounds. Sometimes when I had a break, I would wander the trade show floor and look at the other booths. There was one booth that sold both used and new video games and that one was a favorite place to go. That was where I saw the PS1 for the first time. Someone was playing the original Tomb Raider and it was amazing to see a 3D polygon based game. It looked (at that time) so realistic with the lighting effects and the enemy intelligence. I remember my traveling friend Tony bringing his PlayStation on a road trip and plugging it into a hotel television. He had a first person shooter called Aliens Trilogy that scared the pants off of me. I eventually bought one and it served me for many years before breaking down. I replaced it with the smaller model PS1 that has a built in screen that you see on my shelf.
Nintendo Entertainment System – In the mid to late 80’s everyone was talking about the NES. I wanted one very badly but could not afford one. Finally, after graduating from college in 1989 I got my first job as a social worker at a children’s home. I lived on the campus in an apartment that was provided for me. One of my first purchases with an early paycheck was for a Nintendo of my very own. The first games I bought were Rolling Thunder and a Space Shuttle “simulation”. One thing that was great about living at the children’s home was that there seemed to be a Nintendo in every cottage. I realized that talking about video games with kids is a real connecting point for a few reasons. One, because the games are a fascinating form of temporary escape from reality – and many of those kids really did need an escape from their reality. Two, because talking about video games with a kid changes the relationship, suddenly the kid can be the expert and teach me, the grown-up, something I didn’t know. When that happens, there is connection, and I really love connecting with people. Another great thing about the children’s home is that we would trade games with each other so you could play a lot of games without having to buy a lot.
XBox 360 – I resisted buying the XBox 360 for many years after it came out. This is kind of an unusual memory but I bought my 360 while Shannon was receiving Hospice care at a facility in Huntersville, NC back in 2010. It was an almost surreal time when I was coming to terms with the fact that my spouse was dying of cancer. She spent so much time sleeping in her room. Before Hospice, I was the primary caregiver so at first it was hard to let go and let the staff care for her needs. I had a lot of down time, especially when she would sleep sometimes for sixteen to twenty hours a day. So I went to the store and bought an Xbox 360 and a small flat screen television. That system gave me something else to do during a difficult time. When my son would come to see me, we would stay up late at night in the waiting room playing the first Assassin’s Creed. Also, I remember when my friends Chris and Braiden came over and we played Soul Calibur. Memories evoke emotions and I can still feel that tension in me as I sat in that waiting room, ready to jump up if the buzzer rang and she needed me. She went to heaven on February 2010. I’m still here and life has continued to move forward for me but I believe heaven is real. I will see her again. How’s that for some video game theology?