The Gaming Memories Of Paul: The Final Chapter
Welcome fellow gamers, to the final chapter. My final swan song, if you will. The last part of my journey… to this my final gaming memories! I have to say when I first thought about writing these pieces, I was nervous. I didn’t know what the reaction would be and I certainly, never dreamt that the response would be so darn… awesome. I’ve really enjoyed writing this series and seeing all of your memories in the comments.
So now, onwards and upwards; I was 16 and gaming was about to take a back seat… I was now working through the summer at a warehouse. My money was being spent on nights at the pub; clothes, music and films. I was getting out more, enjoying socialising and this only grew once I began college. Here’s a little irony for you; my original course at college was to be journalism. However, on my first day I was informed that due to lack of interest, the course had been cancelled – a little annoying to be honest! So a BTEC course in computing would be my chosen subject for the next three years.
I had, in a whim, sold my MegaDrive and games (curse me in the comments) – a choice which at the time seemed to me to be the right one. To help fund my days at college I was now working at the weekends; Saturday I helped at the warehouse and Sunday I would help on a market stall, selling mobile phones and accessories. College was an awakening, I was accepted for whom I was and I became part of a group. I even managed to hold a conversation with… wait for it… girls. I had gone from being picked on to being asked to parties – getting drunk was the standard weekend and I was feeling happy.
Yet gaming appeared once more in my life in the shape of Ridge Racer. I loved college, but to be fair I hardly attended lessons; skiving, the lectures with a group of friends became the norm, as did heading out of the gates to the local bowling alley. There in the corner was a shiny arcade cabinet – Ridge Racer! In-between pool matches we would race each other, mouthing off trying to be the coolest in the alley.
One of the lectures I did always attend though was programming – I loved learning the basics behind programming code; at this point in time the language was Turbo Pascal. My favourite project was a very basic X-Wing SIM. I remember sitting there looking at the screen, hardly believing that I had managed to create something – with just a few lines of code. One day I walked into the computer room, to do some work on an assignment. I noticed that most of my class mates were already there, very quiet… with a few curses heard in between the silence. Intrigued I asked a friend what was going on – I was told to logon to the network, keep quiet and he’d show me. With a few commands typed in at the prompt, I was staring at a start screen… Heretic!
Don’t ask me how the game had turned up on the network, all I know is a sudden surge of excitement ran through me. I started up the game, and found myself thrown into a medieval type map. All around me, mages, elves and other characters were running around, killing me, and turning me into a chicken! It was my first taste of multiplayer network gaming. I loved it! I couldn’t get enough and began wondering what else the humble PC could achieve. I had dabbled with the PC in the past playing a few point and click adventures, like Monkey Island and Day Of The Tentacle. I’d even played Doom a few times, but I had never seen just what was truly open to me until that day.
Alas it wasn’t until my 18th birthday that I really fell into PC gaming, when my parents decided to buy me components to make my own. I built it from scratch and soon enjoyed all manner of games including Tomb Raider. One of the parts I was adamant on getting for my PC was a 3DFX graphics card; this really pushed the boundaries of graphics at the time. Tomb Raider was one of the games that took advantage of this awesome graphics card and once more I was sucked back into the gaming world.
Fast forward to 2005; I had settled down, two children and a house were mine. I had become a partner in my father’s mobile phone business. Gaming was still a little part of my life; I owned a PS and PS2, however my love for consoles had been put to one side, I was a PC gamer now. Having dabbled with online gaming in the form of Unreal Tournament, I was looking for the next big thing to sink my teeth into. I had enjoyed various games; Blade Runner from Westwood Studios became one of my top 10 games, Grim Fandango had reignited my love for point and click adventures.
I had also played the greatest Star Wars game ever created (in my humble opinion), Knights Of The Old Republic. Then I picked up Star Wars: Battlefront 2, a title which dominated my playtime for several months. Online multiplayer was now my new addiction. Taking to the skies in an X-Wing against Tie-Fighters, the dog fights were just some of the coolest experiences I have ever played! For me it allowed me to jump into one of my favourite galaxies, bringing terror to the Empire – just like I had dreamed about as a kid. I also knew that I wasn’t just able to defeat some scripted computer AI, the enemies I managed to shoot down from the skies were real people out there somewhere in the world. Real people, enjoying the same emotions as myself.
I’ve been so lucky to grow up seeing an industry change into what it is today. Gaming is still an important part of my life, it’s had its up and downs, yet somehow it still manages to inspire me and keep me interested in what the next big leap will be. I’ve not gone on any killing sprees thanks to the violence shown; gaming has changed how people can tell me a story, how they involve me in that story, creating franchises that like so many books and films will stand the test of time… Games that will forever shine no matter how old they may look. Developers creating beautiful landscapes, characters that stand out – bigger than life as heroes/villains. Worlds full of life and humour. For me gaming is here to stay and I look forward to looking back in ten years time, with more memories to share.