Playing: Hearthstone Watching: Game of Thrones
I recently decided to visit a place I hadn’t been in years. A place that I used to frequent quite often but in recent years had lost interest in. That place is the dreaded video game message board. A wretched hive of scum and villiany, video game message boards are home to all manner of sexist, racist, vile behavior. Hidden among all of that bile though you are sometimes able to engage in a civilized conversation so I decided to dive in again and see what the community was talking about. I was quickly educated on how much of an idiot I am (and apparently homosexual) for owning and enjoying my Xbox One. It became apparent very quickly that on the message boards if you own a different video game system from someone else, you are then their sworn enemy. The feud between Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo owners makes the Starks and Lannisters look like BFFs. After reading through endless posts of people attacking each other for their choice of entertainment I felt something odd besides the expected pity. I felt something familiar….
It was the fall of 1995 and video games were entering an exciting new era. The SEGA Saturn and Sony Playstation had been released and console gamers were discovering a world of 3D gaming that was truly amazing. Virtua Fighter, Ridge Racer, Wipeout and others were games unlike anything we had played before. But in our home we were loyal to just one company, Nintendo. And word was getting around of an amazing new piece of hardware on the horizon. A machine that would rule them all. The Nintendo Ultra 64. And when my brother and I got our hands on the October ’95 issue of Gamefan magazine we saw what would be the holy grail of video games for Nintendo’s mighty new system.
Final Fantasy VII.
Squaresoft were royalty to us. Final Fantasy II & III along with Chrono Trigger & Super Mario RPG were some of our favorite games of all time and this glimpse of their next masterpiece had us staring at the images in that magazine for hours. The world of Final Fantasy was being brought to glorious 3D life on what was being promised to be the most powerful system ever. This would be perhaps the greatest game of all time and would prove that the Ultra 64 would be the system to beat. Close the book, shut the door, Nintendo has won the console wars. We couldn’t possibly have been more excited, until….
In January 1996 Square announces their plans to release Final Fantasy VII for the Sony Playstation. We were beyond stunned. We felt betrayed. Sony had conspired to steal Square away from Nintendo and it was criminal. How could Square turn against the fan base that had been so loyal to them for years on Nintendo platforms? Later it would become known that the game Square had envisioned just wasn’t possible on the cartridge based (now called) Nintendo 64, but at the time all we knew is that we would never get to play the latest instalment in one of our favorite game series ever. It was the worst kind of betrayal imaginable. Or so I thought.
Little did I know that soon my brother, my own flesh and blood, would do something so heinous and unthinkable that it would drive a polygonal wedge between us for years. He was going to buy a Playstation! Any gamer who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s knows that the video game system you played wasn’t just a choice of entertainment, it was a part of who you were. You were either an NES kid or a Master System kid, a Super Nintendo kid or a Genesis kid. And for the first time ever we were going to be on opposite sides. How could he do that? How stupid could he be? Why would he buy such a worthless piece of crap system?! For years we would argue over every detail of Nintendo 64 vs. Playstation. What was better, CD-ROM or cartridges? Which had the better controller? Which games were better? We would still play each others systems because deep down we probably knew that both systems were great, but we’d still come to blows when trying to prove which system was truly the greatest.
As adults now we recognize how ridiculous we were back then, fighting over who’s system was #1 instead of just enjoying all of the awesome games. We can appreciate the advantages of a system we don’t own or the exclusive games they might have. But back then we fell victim to the same kind of behavior that we now look at and shake our heads in judgement. I’m not certain what it is that brings out such heated arguments among gamers. You certainly don’t see this kind of behavior when people debate who is their favorite novelist. You don’t trade insults when you say you prefer Samsung televisions over Vizio. Gamers definitely have a uniquely passionate connection to their favorite games and game developers and that can be a good thing also. How else can you explain two middle aged men who write a weekly blog about a hobby they’ve enjoyed for 3 decades. In the end I think I probably did learn something from revisiting those message boards.
PLAYSTATION SUX!! NINTENDO RULZ!!