We have all grown up, watching things evolve and grow at our side. 1981 was the year my personal gaming adventure was powered on, ready to dive into this shifting, menacing place we call Earth. 2 years passed by, and as I grew, I noticed that small, black box with wood grain trimming in the garage. My father possessed an Atari 2600, and it was enticing, even at an early age. He plugged it in to show me what it was, and oh…my first taste of gaming. Many may ask “Defender? Space Invaders? How about Combat?”, but alas, my first game was E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. I did, in fact, play those others, but this game kept beckoning to me. It was confusing, especially at an early age, and took me a couple of years to finally beat that game. But, it hardened me (I think I started getting chest hair at age 6). It made me appreciate gaming as a whole, as this was more complex than anything else I played. How could gaming get any better?
It was decades before I found that not only was E.T. considered ‘one of the worst games ever made’ but also had a hand in the crash of 1983 (of which I was oblivious to at the time). During this time, all I cared about was ‘What is that wonderful grey box they keep showing on T.V. or in that huge Christmas Catalog that SEARS and JCPenny always sent us?’ In 1987, I awoke to the crisp, cool air of winter, wide-eyed and gleeful as I stared at the many boxes under the tree. My sister and I opened and properly thanked our parents for all of our gifts. As we stood up to hug and prepare to clean up the wrapping paper strewn across the carpet, my father exclaimed ‘Hey, there’s another one down there’. I looked and found a large box, with no name attached. ‘It’s yours, buddy’. I opened it, and that recognizable N of the NES logo popped out. I turned and hugged both parents, ready to open my future passion. It was an NES Tri-cart with the Power Pad. My sister and I were ecstatic, since she was to take part in this gift. These were different times, and a gaming system was catered and marketed towards young boys, but I knew how to share.
Years pass by and many games later, the 16-bit bug bit me. (Say that 3 times fast) I was ready for the next generation of consoles, but as SEGA did so often, they were the first to release their new system. I had never even heard of SEGA prior to this, as none of my friends owned anything but a Nintendo (with that odd exception of one owning a Turbographx-16). I asked for the new system, and was met with the very memorable ‘You already have a Nintendo’ argument. Lucky for me, my father enjoyed gaming. That Christmas of ’91 couldn’t have come faster. I remember shaking the boxes until my mother would yell at me. One box in particular was almost too obvious, and when I picked it up, it was immediately taken away. It disappeared from sight. Christmas rolled around, and we ran out to open our gifts. This time, however, there was no extra box under the tree. Behind the tree was a large window, with draw string curtains. I was asked to open the curtains up after we had finished, and the left side was caught on something. It was the box! Both of my parents in sync said ‘Go ahead, it’s yours’. It was a SEGA Genesis with a packed in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. My excitement was overwhelming as I went to hug the parents. This ended with one stipulation, however. My father pulled me aside and said ‘I hope you enjoy that…when I’m done. I can’t beat level 3 on that Sonic game’, then proceeded to take the system into their bedroom and hooked it up to their T.V. so he could try and finish the game.
This only lasted the rest of the day, before he was too frustrated to continue and brought it back out for us to play.
My passion for gaming has been through many ups and downs. I saw my grades fluctuate from straight A’s to C’s in High School. Some may think I was bored, which I was, but I cannot escape the fact that I always used gaming as a safety net of some sort. Bullying could have gotten the better of me, but no, I had my consoles at home to, well, console me. I’ve played random games from the Atari 2600 to current gen titles, but will never forget the impact these old games had on me and my fond memories of each. Gaming has been my go to, my fuel per-say, to get through it all. I’ve had lackluster games burn me out of 5 dollars at the rental store, and I’ve had games never returned to me that I leant out to ‘friends’. I even survived the horrendous endeavor that was the mid-90s, when gaming was getting a bad rap due to mature content being released. I’ve seen the advent of the ‘casual game’ to the devolution of gaming to nickel and diming people with pointless content. However, I digress, I never even bothered to introduce myself.
My name is Casey, and I am a gameoholic. There, I said it, and I feel no shame. Once I graduated from High School in 1999, I went off to attend the now defunct ITT Technical Institute. I received an Associates in Electrical Engineering (which by today’s standards is equivalent to a High School diploma) and went off to work any jobs that were electrical in nature. This led me to working for a satellite installer in Florida. It paid ok, but long days trudging through thick insulation in an attic in Florida just wasn’t what I had in mind. A few months in and my patriotism grew 10 fold. It was September 11, 2001. I showed up with a colleague of mine to do an install, and the woman living at the residence wouldn’t come to the door. We knocked a few times, and she finally noticed, waving her hand to tell us hold on. Customer service and professionalism resulted in a simple nod of the head as we went back to the truck. The radio was on, and we heard the announcement of the second tower. ‘Oh, that’s why’. Some may chalk this up to some over exaggerated, ‘Merican fluff story, but hey, I’m doing the writing here. This actually did happen, and I actually got the idea to walk into the local recruitment office. My father had done his 4 years a long time ago in the Air Force, and I felt this was a good reason to do the same.
Fast forward 12 ½ years, and I realized I had overstayed my welcome. I did my job, but wasn’t able to keep up with certain physical regulations. A few medical concerns and I was ready to go, and with cutbacks, I got to go on my own terms. This led me to current day. I am now 80% to a Bachelors in Game Design from DeVry and couldn’t be happier. My fiancé and I are ready to go forth and harken in a new age of gaming. My time has come, and I am glad I have been able to share my life with you all.