Confessions of a Wanna-be Gamer

By Betsy Bradford

Although I've always enjoyed video games, I can't describe myself as an up-to-date gamer. I've never had the newest consoles, games, or accessories. The games I did have were generally very well loved, but when a conversation would turn to different consoles or the very latest games, I'd always be left out.

This pattern started in my childhood. The first and only console I had growing up was an original NES. Even though everyone else already had one, my parents thought that buying it was the most generous act imaginable. Soon after, when the SNES came out, I believed for a moment that I might get one. It quickly became clear that I would not, nor would I get any other system or accessory out at the time, whether it was a Game Genie, a Sega Genesis, or a Game Boy; I'd gotten my NES, and, as far as my parents were concerned, I was set for life.

And in case you might think that in 10+ years of using one outdated system we must have accumulated tons of games, allow me to disabuse you of that notion. We had eight. For over a decade, we played Super Mario Brothers 1, 2, and 3, The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man 2 and 3, Metroid, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Don't get me wrong; they were eight excellent and well-loved games, but still, there were only eight of them.

When I went to college, my eyes were opened to a whole new realm of gaming of which I'd only dreamed in the past. What was this PlayStation that everyone kept talking about? And was this Mario Kart as awesome as everyone said? (For the record, it wasn't.) The funny thing was, my friends didn't seem to realize how lucky they were to have these consoles and games in the first place. For the most part, they'd just get angry over not winning. My arguments of, "Hey, at least you get to play!" fell on deaf ears.

But growing up game-deprived has led to certain advantages. Even though the NES is by now a highly dated console, everyone who grew up in the eighties is nostalgic for it, and every now and then you'll be at a party and someone will whip out their old console and a few favorite games. As a result of having only those eight games for most of my life, I've acquired an enviable set of skills which strike fear into the hearts of most other gamers. Do you know where every single item in Mario 3 is hidden? I didn’t think so. And have you defeated both play-throughs of The Legend of Zelda? Multiple times?

Now, 20 years later, I can't describe myself as an avid gamer, even though as I sit here I can see six different consoles. They belong to my boyfriend, although I do get to partake. And, even so, they aren't generally the most current consoles. We don't have a Wii or a PS3, but video games are a staple of our household. Including, sometimes, Mario and Zelda.