Over at Kotaku today, gaming journalist Stephen Totilo threw down the gauntlet with this:
Numerous recent retrospectives showed that, from 2000-2009, video games changed. But how did you change alongside the games of the 00's? I've compiled My Gaming Decade. You go next.
That sounds like an invitation to me! We saw a lot change in gaming over the past ten years, but how much has gaming changed me? Let's find out.
Starting my first full calendar year out of high school and at the university, I drift away from gaming as the Nintendo 64's new release list dries up. Neither the Sony PlayStation nor Sega Dreamcast really interest me enough to justify spending the time and money when college is required so much time and energy (and money). Moreover, nobody in my new social circle plays games. I still have a soft spot for Super Mario 64 though, and when I do make time for a game, it's usually that one. If I don't save the princess, who will?
Nintendo launches its GameCube, but I hesitate when I find out that there is not a new true Super Mario game planned for launch. I pass on the Game Boy Advance for the same reason.
I break down and buy a GameCube after a price drop in advance of Super Mario Sunshine. After becoming entranced with Mario all over again in addition to Super Smash Bros. Melee and Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, I decide that maybe there's room for gaming in my adult life after all. Sadly, Metroid Prime doesn't do much for me. Briefly dated a girl that claimed to like video games, but actually did not. Lying about video games is not cool, girl.
My health collapses and I'm forced to take a leave of absence from both college and work to recover. While awaiting major surgery, I submerge myself in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker in order to have some sense of purpose during the months I spend confined to my little apartment. After surgery, I refocus my goals and decide to include more fun things like gaming in my daily life and to further develop my writing skills with an aim towards working in gaming journalism in some professional capacity. Other consoles aren't seriously on my radar, but I do finally pick up a cheap Virtual Boy from eBay and most of the North American game catalog. I set it up on my living room coffee table for several weeks as I play through the best and mostly worst that the red-and-black wonder had to offer, and guests are mystified by the odd Viewmaster. It made for a great conversation piece.
I join the team at GameCube Advanced, a gaming news and reviews company that over the years morphs into Kombo.com. Three major hurricanes lash Florida over the late summer, forcing me to evacuate twice with a suitcase of clothes and two giant sacks full of all of my game cartridges and discs. At the end of the year, I get a Nintendo DS just to play Super Mario 64 DS's new levels. This my first handheld system since 1989's Game Boy, so I also play catch-up with the Game Boy Advance library.
Eager to expand beyond the occasional review for GCA, I create my Press The Buttons gaming blog. Soon after I tour the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy in one of the few times where my day job and my gaming job collide. Later, I attend my first E3 and spend most of my free time circling the New Super Mario Bros. section of Nintendo's booth for frequent replays and playing Mario Kart DS against Charles Martinet. GCA-turned-Advanced Media Network has about thirty people working on-site, so plum assignments are hard to come by for a rookie. Nevertheless, I have a complete blast and mark an entry off my list of lifelong dreams. Toward the end of the year I graduate from the university with Bachelor's degree in Information Technology with a minor in Creative Writing. Now with more free time, I manage to spend more time writing about games than actually playing them. Briefly dated a girl that ended things right after I returned from E3, and I come to realize that whomever I date, she needs to enjoy gaming as well or else it's just not going to work out in the end for either of us.
I cross the party line and buy a Sony PlayStation 2 for both personal and professional reasons as the list of quality new GameCube releases comes to an end. At E3, Nintendo's new Wii looks like the best thing ever judging from Super Mario Galaxy and other core-type games. Of course, back then we just called them "games". AMN once again brings an epic workforce to the show. I take up Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix as a daily exercise regimen and get into better shape. At the end of the year I get a Wii and a few launch titles, one of which — Red Steel — I never get around to actually opening. Seriously. It's still in the original shrinkwrap even now. Hello, valuable collector item circa 2026!
My health craters again, and as it turns out, choosing Diddy Kong Racing DS to keep my mind off of things at the hospital wasn't such a wise idea. I eventually heal up enough to get back to most of my routine, but ongoing issues will hold me back for the next few years. I get a HDTV over the summer and discover the joys of widescreen gaming, albeit in 480p for the Wii. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I buy a used PSP from eBay to prepare for Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles. Meanwhile, E3 scales down drastically, but I get more work done than ever despite limping my way through Los Angeles. With only about ten of us from AMN covering the event, we have an easier time hanging out after hours and I finally remember the names of all of the people with whom I work.
E3 seems even smaller as it occupies only a shell of its former space in Los Angeles. At the end of the week, the ten-person AMN-turned-Kombo team caps off the event with a midnight premiere screening of The Dark Knight. When Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and a larger hard drive become part of the Sony PlayStation 3 package, I pull the trigger and buy one. My own personal HD gaming era begins, and suddenly the Wii seems a little less impressive. Meanwhile, I acquire my first piece of autographed gaming memorabilia, and it's from the world of Castlevania. Today it's framed and hanging on my bedroom wall.
Three of my Kombo co-workers and I team up to relaunch the Kombo Breaker gaming podcast, and during the year we get to talk to developers working on games like Heavy Rain, Alpha Protocol, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, and Red Faction: Guerrilla about their adventures in gaming. After living ten years in my little apartment, I finally make the move to a three-floor townhouse where I can spread my gaming collection across an entire room. The day after I move (honestly, it was one day later) I jetted off to E3 for the best week ever in which I attended a taping of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, wore a Ghostbusters proton pack & saw the original Ecto-1, played New Super Mario Bros. Wii with Charles Martinet, and went to a Video Games Live concert. Oh, and somewhere in the middle of that were games and gaming-related work. I think. It's all kind of a blur. Toward the end of the year I have no choice but to have another major surgery, this time to correct the health issue that burst into existence back in 2007, and I choose New Super Mario Bros. Wii to finish out my recovery time, bookending the decade with saving the princess because, again, if I don't save the princess, who will?