Does Anyone Remember When "Video Games" Were Still a FUN Hobby?

Videogames have been a hobby of mine for a long, long time.  I was a child of the Nintendo Entertainment System and I remember having 30-40 awesome videogames.  My father used to bring surprises home every paycheck when we were well off in New York City.  My sister would get several dolls, My Little Pony figures, or whatever toys she was into at the time and I’d get a new videogame.

Even that old crappy artwork on Nintendo cartridges just had this feel to it that somehow added to the game instead of took away from it.  Mega Man 2 is a classic, and arguably the best in the series.

Even that old crappy artwork on Nintendo cartridges just had this feel to it that somehow added to the game instead of took away from it.  Mega Man 2 is a classic, and arguably the best in the series.

One of my absolute best memories of those years was when my father brought home Mega Man 2.  I didn’t even have Mega Man 1 at the time (I would later go back and play the hell out of it), but Mega Man 2 was pretty much one of the most awesome Nintendo games I’d ever played, and I still think so.  I spent so much time trying to beat the 8 Robot Masters and Dr. Wily’s Castle.  I don’t think I put Mega Man 2 down until I had annihilated everything in it.

This might have been one of the coolest box-arts to anything, ever.  You just looked at the box and knew the GameBoy was serious business.  Anything ballsy enough to come with a puzzle game instead of a Mario game and still consider itself cool had to be good.

This might have been one of the coolest box-arts to anything, ever.  You just looked at the box and knew the GameBoy was serious business.  Anything ballsy enough to come with a puzzle game instead of a Mario game and still consider itself cool had to be good.

As I grew older, I grew sneakier and as the holidays came along, I was able to find where exactly my father hid various birthday and Christmas gifts.  I remember being a stealthy little jackass who carefully opened the very first, original, fat bulky Gameboy just so I could play Tetris (which looked incredibly boring in game magazines but once I started playing it found myself hooked).  I’d play it for a few minutes, then casually sneak it back into the box before Dad got home from work.  I think he realized what I was doing when after 5 minutes of playing Gameboy on my birthday the included batteries went dead (from all the times I wore them out prior to that).

Some kids waited until their parents weren't home to find their father's Playboy Magazine stash.  I waited until my father wasn't home to find the Super NES he bought for my birthday and play the hell out of Super Mario World.

Some kids waited until their parents weren't home to find their father's Playboy Magazine stash.  I waited until my father wasn't home to find the Super NES he bought for my birthday and play the hell out of Super Mario World.

Good thing a year or two later that the Super NES wasn’t battery powered.  My elementary school, PS 81, allowed us to go home for lunch.  Back then I wasn’t old, out of shape, or tired.  I ran like a bat out of hell up the hill back to the Skyview apartment complex where I lived.  I was perceptive so it didn’t take long for me to realize the RF Adapter for the SNES was the exact same one for the regular NES, saving myself precious time as I hooked the machine up and experienced Super Mario World for the first time weeks before my birthday.  Sure, I was cheating by playing it, and sure I was actually punishing myself by being able to only play it for 20 minutes before having to carefully slide the game and system back into the box, hide the box back in the hiding place, and then run downhill to make it back into class before the bell rang, but I didn’t care; I had Super Mario World. And that was awesome.

This was always like 200-300 pages just covering video games, codes, cheats, reviews, and shit you could only get in Japan but REALLY wanted to come out in America.  It was like a video game bible being released on a monthly basis and it was amazing.

This was always like 200-300 pages just covering video games, codes, cheats, reviews, and shit you could only get in Japan but REALLY wanted to come out in America.  It was like a video game bible being released on a monthly basis and it was amazing.

I grew up around video games.  Before EVERYONE had the Internet on their computers, cellphones, tablets, toilets, and inside their anuses, I only really wanted the Internet because it was easier than waiting for the newest issues of Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro, or GameFan magazine to get codes and cheats.  Sometimes I’d be such a cheapskate, I’d go to the supermarket with a pen and paper and WRITE CODES DOWN rather than buy the magazines, especially if the issue was covering mostly games I didn’t care for.

Worst computer ever.  My nutsac has more processing power than this thing.

Worst computer ever.  My nutsac has more processing power than this thing.

When I got Internet access in 1997 with a really crappy IBM Aptiva computer running Windows 95, my first order of business was to go into the GameFan chat room where I talked with other gamers.  Despite a few personality clashes, for the most part I was pretty easy to talk to.  I met a guy named PanzerMega and a guy named Makaze.  Makaze is now my brother in law in real life.  PanzerMega asked me to write for his Playstation Interactive website, a hobby that turned into a skill and a passion later in life.  Associating with them I got to attend the Electronic Entertainment Expo, and see lots of cool videogames, and experience a lot of different things. 

Resident Evil - the game that could almost make you crap your pants.

Resident Evil - the game that could almost make you crap your pants.

Speaking of the Playstation, I remember when I first got the original Sony Playstation but was too broke to afford a memory card, and thus tried to beat Resident Evil without saving.  That went well up until the Hunters were introduced and decapitated Jill with one shot.  I still really, REALLY hate Hunters more than any other standard enemy in Resident Evil, all because of that.

It’s safe to say videogames have been a big portion of my life.  And if you’re wondering the point of all of this rambling, it’s to show people that once upon a time, video games were simply really fun and really cool.  And I want to share that with people because here in 2015, it feels like so much of that satisfaction has been lost.

In 2015, I feel like videogames have become annoyingly political.  Look at the GamerGate situation.  We’re all arguing about ethics in journalism, which is a fair point, until you realize that ethics in journalism (or the lack thereof) isn’t a videogames issue, it’s a SOCIETY issue.  You can look at pretty much anything in the mainstream media and find the taint of “social justice” which is meant to try to steer us to one uniform way of thinking.

Anita Sarkeesian.  This woman pretty much hates everything fun that ever existed. I bet her vagina stinks with the strong stench of being a HateBitch.

Anita Sarkeesian.  This woman pretty much hates everything fun that ever existed. I bet her vagina stinks with the strong stench of being a HateBitch.

On the other side you have feminists who have turned videogames into a platform for incessant whining about everything from “it’s misogynistic to rescue the princess” to “the scantily clad women in Dead or Alive offend me,” to “the fact you can beat up prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto triggers me to recall every bad thing a man has ever done to me therefore the game must be removed.”  How about you just don’t play the fucking game that brings you bad memories?

What happened to video games being a fun hobby instead of a political platform for a bunch of people to push agendas I couldn’t care less about?  You think I’m worried about “society’s problems” when I’m playing Borderlands or Super Mario Bros. or Grand Theft Auto, or Metal Gear?  No.  I’m playing the game to ESCAPE the stresses of society, not add to them.  I’m playing the game to wind down, relax, and have fun – not to sit there and ponder whether or not the size of Jill Valentine’s ass sets women’s rights back 100 years (it doesn’t by the way).

If a video game character having big tits and "being pretty" offends you, then you have way too much time on your hands and need to re-evaluate your life.

If a video game character having big tits and "being pretty" offends you, then you have way too much time on your hands and need to re-evaluate your life.

And speaking of which since when did we decide that it’s sexist for fictional women characters to be made to be appealing ANYWAY?   Warped assholes have really hurt the very vibe videogames used to bring to the masses.  You know why guys like Jill Valentine or Lara Croft?  It has less to do with boobs and more about being an attractive girl who happens to kick some ass!  Jill Valentine has TWO MORE INVENTORY SLOTS than Chris, HOLDS MORE BULLETS THAN CHRIS, can UNLOCK DOORS BECAUSE SHE HAS MASTERED UNLOCKING, she can PLAY THE PIANO, happens to be a BETTER SHOT THAN CHRIS, and even has better dialogue than Chris - the fact she has a big ass has VERY LITTLE to do with why people like her so much so please shut the fuck up and enjoy the video game. Thanks.

The icon associated with LizardSquad - a group of "internet terrorists" that spend their time DDoSing video name networks such as PSN and X-Box Live.  While their existence is annoying, gross, and incomprehensible, one has to wonder why being "constantly connected to the Internet" is even a thing in today's videogames when we got along just fine NOT being connected to the Internet for years.

The icon associated with LizardSquad - a group of "internet terrorists" that spend their time DDoSing video name networks such as PSN and X-Box Live.  While their existence is annoying, gross, and incomprehensible, one has to wonder why being "constantly connected to the Internet" is even a thing in today's videogames when we got along just fine NOT being connected to the Internet for years.

This gamer war isn’t the only problem we have though.  I often wonder if the Internet ruined everything when it comes to videogames – “always on” videogame consoles just lead to games and systems that can’t be played when a bunch of internet hackers/script kids sit there with a giant picture of a lizard on Twitter trying to make fifty or so variations of “nutsac” jokes.  “Spend time with your families” they say.  What if you were trying to do just that by spending time playing a videogame with your brothers, sisters, cousins, or your kids?  Assholes.  Thanks for taking something cool and ruining it just because you’re a bunch of miserable pieces of garbage with nothing better to do with your lives.  Of course, can we really blame them when companies force an “ALWAYS ONLINE” stipulation to a lot of what they are putting out?

I'm pretty sure this Skyrim character is not supposed to be floating in mid-air like this.

I'm pretty sure this Skyrim character is not supposed to be floating in mid-air like this.

And what ever happened to quality testing?  Do you remember when you could buy a game in the 1980s and 1990s and IT WORKED?  Now because of the Internet, even developers themselves have become lazy, rushing to meet a sales deadline for a videogame, putting it out filled with bugs and then fixing it “several patches later.”  That wasn’t even an option back when consoles weren’t “internet-enabled.”  You had to put out a complete, working, quality game, or you were going to have some serious problems on your hands and some angry customers.  Now, we have “crank out this buggy game” and worry about it later.  Bethesda Studios, despite putting out games I enjoy, are one of the biggest culprits as Fallout and Elder Scrolls games seem to be chock full of bugs “to be fixed in a future patch.”

Player1ArcadeGames.jpg

Oh, and of course I can’t forget the death of the arcade and in-person gaming interaction.  Growing up, I had a Super Nintendo, my friend Courtney had a Sega Genesis, and my friend Jose had the Turbo Graphix 16, and we would do this really cool thing called “going to each other’s houses” to play videogames with an actual second controller and talk to our friends not just about videogames but anything else from new movies we liked to comic books to wrestling and it was fun.  I legitimately had a party where 12 of my friends came just to see Final Fantasy for the first time.  And if we didn’t have games to play at home on our consoles, we’d go down the street to the pizza joint and pump quarters into Street Fighter II.  Or we’d get our parents to drive us to Nathan’s Hot Dogs which had a massive arcade with every game you can think of.  And we couldn’t troll each other or be raging assholes for a long period of time because WE HAD TO SEE EACH OTHER EVERY FUCKING DAY.  We may have beaten each other up over Street Fighter losses a couple of times but even if we were angry at each other, we learned to get over it.  I can laugh about getting into a fist-fight over Courtney cheaping me with Chun’Li’s stupid kick move over and over.

Now you have these paper-thin-skinned crybabies that sit around screaming and trolling each other on headsets and acting like idiots that NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE and have never learned to interact with anybody.  Then they get mad about losing in a game to the point they’re doing something called “doxing” and hunting down and posting people’s personal information because they don’t like losing or just generally to cause drama – dude, in my day if you did that, you’d get punched in the mouth.  You didn’t try that because there was respect, and there were consequences for being a dickhead.  And people say *I* have no social skills?  You actually met people gaming in the arcades.  You actually made friends that way.  You actually left the house, and got air and sunlight.  We lost all of that in the current generation – at the risk of sounding like a bitter old man, the good old days were fucking awesome.

Gone are the days of running up that hill to play Super NES behind my Dad’s back, instead replaced by some Megafaggot named Pewdiepie making thousands of dollars to play videogames and get OTHER PEOPLE to give him money for the “pleasure of it,” which translates into “Every time this pantywaist says ‘BRAH’ he makes $1000.”  What is wrong with this picture?  What is wrong with videogames?  What is wrong with YOU?  That's right, we've gone so down hill as a society that we took the magic away from the personal memories and experiences of gaming and handed it (and our money) to the textbook definition of "Eurotrash."  Good job, Planet Earth.

The “good old days” will never come back and we’ll likely never have a resurgence of the days where gaming was less about political platforms, glitches, and girly men, but I just wanted to write this because I am aware a lot of you out there never got to experience video games when they actually were at the height of awesomeness and weren’t filled with stupid shit from stupid people – that satisfaction that used to come with just being able to play a game and have the best possible time without all this style-over-substance crap we’re given now.  And although those days are long gone, it is my hope that maybe somebody one day reads this and tries to bring that feeling back to a pastime that has really lost its luster.  Hopefully this piece made you stop, think, and realize "man, we're headed the wrong way."

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