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. what a beautifully written article, I was nearly in tears.
    I remember my first gaming experience was in game store my uncle worked in. I use to go there when it shut and play sonic the hedgehog and I loved it. It was the start of my gaming life and when I was recovering from Ovarian cancer final fantasy 7, 8 and 9 were the games I was playing to help me feel better. And I cant forget when I played final fantasy 10 for the first time, seeing the first speaking ff character was amazing.
    And as I get older I don’t play any less, in fact I think I keep finding loads of new things to play and fall in love with xxx

  2. PHENOMINAL article,spectacular.

    my first gaming experience was important to me because of what my parents had to do so that i could actually experience gaming.
    when me and my family moved from serbia to South Africa due to the civil war we had almost nothing,i was a baby at the time and have little recollection of how it was,but my parents said that they hardly knew english and had only diplomas for wich to get jobs with,they worked really hard and made some friends and learnt english,there friends where people who had money and thus gave there kids fancy new toys,my first experience with gaming stemmed from playing the game boy at one of my friends houses,i was so excited to play but my family could not afford one,a year later my dad started his IT business running it from the apartment and another year later we had enough money to move into a house,my dad saw how much hapiness i got from gaming and actually came back from a business meeting with my first ever game and console,the game boy colour with pokemon yellow as my first game.i trully am happy that i have the parents that i have and what they went through so that we could live a comfortable life.

  3. Great read, and a truly touching story that makes the heart feel that little bit warmer.

    I first got into gaming on the Playstation, and like you, Spyro was one of the first titles that I ever had the joy to play. Medieval soon followed, and before I knew it was in love with gaming. The interaction, the 3D graphics – I didn’t think it could any any better at the time!

  4. That article cheered me up. Great read. :)
    My first gaming experience was at Christmas when I got my N64.

  5. Great article! My eyes teared up for a second there. Damn allergies! :P
    It’s amazing what gaming can do to a person.
    I started off at age 6 with a NES for Christmas with the original Super Mario Bros. game. I still have the packaging of that magical device in my basement. I don’t think I could ever get rid of it.

  6. Wonderful article, Phill. Lovely to see what gaming means to you and even better knowing that things worked out in the end for your sister. Although, I have to say, you’re a cunning bastard as I bet most of us were “oh god, not again… this isn’t going end well” then she recovered for a second time. You had us on tenterhooks! :-)

    My story is far more straight forward. We sold my younger sister to pay for a PS1. A worthy sacrifice I’m sure you’ll agree.

  7. not the 1st games i played, but 1st i owned… (i think ping, or was it pong lol, on the atari was the 1st i played)
    horris goes skiing & chequred flag, on a christmas morning for the spectrum 48k.
    when i think of how c.flag looked, which i loved & how say gt5 looks, amazing the transition.
    been a joy & a privilege to say the progression over the years.

    ps was watching the b.b.theory the other night & sheldon was playing a scrolling text based game, adventure games i think they were commonly known as, broght bk great memories of gremlins etc, on the c64.

    • say *see
      still hoping for the edit feature to be open to all at some point.
      will place it in the ideas forum sometime, but pc at home so slow, i tend to stay away from it.

  8. Thanks, everyone, for the comments :)

  9. Its hard to say anything after reading that but it does deserve a comment to say well done. A very good read.

  10. Firstly, glad to see your sister is doing well :) your family have all been through hell and back and it comes through in your writing, that was a BRILLIANT article.

    being a fairly old fart my earliest gaming memory is playing Punchy on a Commodore 16 in the mid 80’s… i loved that game and have actually been considering trying to pick up a C16 and Punchy again recently :)

    my real gaming explosion came with the NES, SNES and Mega Drive – my late teens and early 20’s spent playing FIFA 95/96 and Micro Machines on the Mega Drive and Fever Pitch on the SNES (i love my football games lol). My PS3 has reinvigorated that love for gaming i had back then and i really do love playing games for the peace and quiet now :)

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