Guest Writer: First Gaming Experiences

This article is a guest submission from NemesisN1derboy.

I’m a person who likes to write. When I’m bored, feeling down or feeling stressed out, I like to sit at my laptop/PC and write about something. The other day, I was thinking of something to write, but I had a case of writer’s block. Then something clicked, the penny dropped and I decided to write about this. The following article is about a story and situation very close to my heart and it may be distressing to some.

I’m going to talk about how I got into gaming, and what gaming really means to me.

Not many of you will know this, as not many know me, but when I was young, about 6, my second sister was born. It was a joyous occasion for all, as you could imagine. Unfortunately, she got sick. Really sick. It took the hospital about a year to figure out that she had childhood AML. For those who don’t know, AML stands for Acute Myelogenous Leukaemia and is a cancer of the bone marrow. It is possibly the worst form of Leukaemia a person can get. Due to it taking so long for her to get diagnosed, and because AML is the fastest progressing form of Leukaemia, she was given a 10% chance of survival.

As you can imagine, a lot of time was spent running in and out of the hospital, late nights and early mornings, constant check-ups and only ever really having one parent at home at any stage. It was hard. But it was in Our Lady’s Hospital for sick children in Crumlin where I discovered gaming.

[drop]It was on the classic Sega Mega Drive. The first game I ever played was Street Fighter II and, needless to say, I hadn’t a continental notion of what I was supposed to do! That didn’t matter though, the feeling of that black piece of plastic and watching the buttons I pressed make things happen on the screen was enough to blow my young mind. It was like nothing had ever seen! 16-bit graphics! I hadn’t a clue what it meant at the time but it sure-as-hell sounded cool. Little did I know, this was to be one of the defining moments in my life.

That was only the beginning, and gaming on the Mega Drive soon turned into being awestruck while playing the Playstation. As regular followers of the nuTSAck Podcast will know, the first game I played on the PS1 was Spyro the Dragon. This was a huge moment for me. If playing the Mega Drive was the fuel for the start of my gaming life, playing Spyro was the god-damn flamethrower. The 3D graphics, the voice acting, the sheer range of colours. My mind was blown all over again. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

I got my first games console, the PS1, when I was about 8, with Spyro the Dragon and Formula One. I no longer had to go to the Playroom in Our Lady’s hospital to play this amazing technology. Then, along came Final Fantasy. The first Final Fantasy game I played was Final Fantasy VIII. I put more time into that game than a 9-year-old ever should. My parents weren’t happy with the amount of gaming I did, but I didn’t care. They didn’t understand. They still don’t to this day.

Everything was going great; I had games, friends and a newly healthy sister. She had beaten the monster inside her against all odds. As if in response to this new-found joy in the family, it all came tumbling down again. When I was about 12, my sister, then 6, was once again diagnosed with Leukaemia. This time, it was CML, or Chronic Myelogenous Leukaemia. Although not as bad as AML, it was still going to be a miracle if she pulled through a second time. I just didn’t happen.

[drop2]It was back to the hospital, back to the grandparents’ and back to that playroom. By this time, I had moved on to the PS2. I drifted from playroom to hospital room and back to playroom every time I was there. I suppose it was a method of escapism, something to take my mind off what was happening. I still didn’t fully understand it, not like I do now anyway, but I knew something wasn’t right, that my sister was very sick and that it was going to be a long road to recovery for her. Playing Final Fantasy X in that playroom, in my bedroom and in my grandparents did just that. It helped me to escape. At that time I was also being bullied in school, so the situation with my sister and the low self-esteem led to me being holed up a lot. Again, games, to me, were used as a method of escapism. They transported me to these fantastical worlds, where I wasn’t me, where all the horrible stuff going on didn’t exist. Where I was alone.

As time went on, my sister got better. We had our scares, but it was going well. My sister was getting chemotherapy less and less, and I visited that playroom less and less. A few months later, it was over. She had beaten it for the second time, against all odds. Five years on, she received the all clear, as in the cancer will never return, in August of 2010. The family had a party to celebrate; it was the most emotional experience I had ever witnessed in my life. To see her, 12 years old now, healthy and going strong, knowing that the horror that was inside her was gone forever, was just…astounding and amazing. I have never felt so much pride in my life. As I was watching my dad address the extended family and thank them, tears in each and every single person’s eyes, I couldn’t help but revisit that old memory of the first time I laid eyes on a gaming machine, because I knew that if it wasn’t for gaming, I would have broke down during the time, whether I understood fully why or not.

So that’s what gaming means to me, my first experiences shown. It is a memory that will be stuck in my mind for the rest of my life, but if I had one wish, just one, I would wish that I never had to see that god-damned playroom ever again. In memory or otherwise.

As you can imagine, this was a very hard piece to write, sparked by aerobes competition thread in the forum, and I hope nobody ever has to go through what my family went through.

Sound off in the comments below and share your gaming memories and experiences.

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46 Comments

  1. a really moving article… i got this warm feeling when i read that ur sister had fought and survived the second leukaemia and then got rid of it for life =) hoping for the best for u and ur sister…. =)
    my first gaming experience was when my brother and sister showed me the beauty of the NES and Mega Man II, Rygar and Super Mario Bros. And playing Wolfestien 3D on the PC… Ahh the good ol’ times..:P should go and thank my brother and sister for bringin’ gaming to my life…=)

  2. A really heartwarming article, thanks for sharing the story

    I really got into gaming through my older brother, who started off with a master system (which he put his foot through after an unsuccessful few rounds of Alex Kidd). The first console that I owned for myself was the PS1 with Abe’s Odysee and Crash Bandicoot. Back then discovering new games was a case of going into town and buying games out of the bargain bin, not having any idea how good they were. I remember discovering FFVII that way and just being completely blown away

  3. my earliest memory of gaming in 1991 (i think) and my dad coming home from work with a black bin liner with a sega megadrive in that he’d bought 2nd hand with sonic 1 and a few other games but that was it for me making that little blue hedgehog collect rings spin and jump around with a pad was awesome.

    • i should say i’m glad your sister is fine now NemesisN1derboy and i do agree that gaming helps you escape for a while from things that are affecting you in the real world.

  4. Wow, what fantastic read. It’s, in a way, reassuring that all these articles I read on here are so human, so personal. You just don’t get that on other, less ‘real, game sites out there.

    As for my first time gaming, it was when my Dad spontaneously brought home an N64 after work one evening, and me watching him play a range of games which I’ve mostly forgotten now. But my own first real experience actually playing, was on the Playstation; my Dad, again, was playing Crash Bandicoot this time, and he got an important call from his work, and told me to carry on for him. Naturally, I was terrified at first- it was the boulder level where you run backwards, towards the screen. But by the time he came back, I was hooked. And I completed the entire first and second islands for him before I handed it back. From there came Abe’s Odyssey & Exodus, the other 3 Crash games in the ND quadrilogy, Tomb Raider and, eventually, FIFA. When my Dad moved out a few years later, partly through guilt, partly through wanting to play it himself, my Dad left a box one Christmas outside our house for me and my Brother. And it just happened to contain Tekken Tag Tournament, Crazy Taxi, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, FIFA 2001, and my first ever self-owned console, the PS2. And after the Ratchet & Clank games entered the disc-tray, it signaled the start of my favourite hobby for life. So there we go, not as inspiring as yours, Nemesis, but my tale has been shared :) Merry Easter!

  5. The first which I can recall properly was on Gran Turismo 3, Trial Mountain, brown Nissan Skyline [I forget the name, but can recognise the shape]. I drove it again on GT5 when it came out, was the first race I did, & it was beautiful :)

    Great story of yours, by the way. It explains the passion behind some people gaming.

  6. That was a heartwarming tale NemesisN1derboy, thanks for sharing it with us and i’m glad everything worked out well for your sister.

    There was a period when i had a stressful situation occupying my mind, something i knew i had no control over but still could not let it go. I was so pre-occupied wth it that I couldn’t play any game for more than a few mins ( or watch tv/movie/read etc) but then i tried Flower and before i knew it i had played for an hour without thinking once about my situation – and it was like my worries had been massaged into objective, calmer thoughts! Wonderful.

    Happy Easter!

    • flower is a game I still owe myself to play, could also really need something relaxing and refreshing to calm my mind with.

      Thanks for reminding me and a happy Easter! :D

  7. I think my first gaming experience was the original sonic on the megadrive, which I used to play over and over again, I never could beat those games.
    Not too long after I got bought a PS1 with Spyro the dragon, Oh how much I used to play that game. Spyro was a great series in its time, but like all good things, they all come to an end one day.

  8. Glad that your sister was okay.

    Related : My best friend was diagnosed with a form of Leukemia at around 14. I spent a lot of evenings in hospital when he wasn’t too ill to visit. This was usually filled with to the playroom too. Dead or Alive 2 was our game of choice at the time.

    My first gaming experience would’ve been around aged 3, and I’d imagine it was SMB. Got a hand-me-down NES not long after that as my cousin upgraded to a Megadrive.

  9. Lovely article sir.

    Personally it was actually the original sonic and Gynouge on my dad’s Megadrive that got me into gaming!
    My cousin is about 8 years older than me and always had the newest Playstation consoles when they were out. I remeber playing tomb raider round there and absolutely loving it. Same with Metal gear solid 2 on the PS2. Then Motorstorm on the PS3. Wonder what he has planned for the next console!

  10. commodore 64 was my first taste of gaming and playing rambo, thought it was class. my brother had a mega drive and i spent many hours playing sonic 1,2 sonic and knuckles.

    but my first console was a playstation with games like tunnel b1, tekken2 which god knows how many hours i spent playing that. But once i got my hands on Final Fantasy 7 i was hooked

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