You’d think looking back through the nostalgic lens of youth would mean conjuring up memories of frolicking with cousins and neighborhood kids. You’d think it’d be causing a ruckus and getting away with it the way only a child can. To me, it meant neither of those things. To me, childhood meant being glued to a television stand the moment I unpacked my very first Playstation. The polygonal face of Lara Croft, the blurred purple scales of Spyro The Dragon, and of course the raspy voice of Solid Snake; all seminal parts of not only my upbringing, but how I interpret life, making up who and what I am.
One of the greatest experiences in my life would have to be playing through the entirety of “Metal Gear Solid” with my brother for the first time. I must’ve been around 7 or 8, he 13 or 14, so you’d assume there’d be a generational gap. There wasn’t. The storytelling and general wackiness on display, all working hand in hand to create something unforgettable. Everything surrounding this game was, and still is, off the wall crazy. The idea of a 2 disc game or having to switch your controller port during a particular encounter were so novel and strange at the time. My brother and I relished it. With our yellow 8 MB memory card inserted into the console and a firm grip on the PSX controller, our journey began.
4 years later, I find myself still cemented in the grooves of the couch, awaiting new titles & sequels that make me excited as sin. Brother’s off to college, I have to continue the pilgrimage into the virtual world alone. At this point, I’m well-rehearsed in gaming, so I can go it solo. The Playstation 2 would’ve been at its midpoint in terms of life cycle at this point. “GTA: Vice City” is everything. The 80’s music & style mixed with the cartoon violence that created a cloud of controversy to rock the ages. It was a 12 year old’s playground. Storytelling and general immersion became the norm with technological improvements, and with that, the late nights spent up and hours lost ratio.
By the time the Playstation 3 rolled in, I’d felt like I’d seen it all. Graphics? The PS2 had that? Gameplay? You bet your sweet ass the PS2 delivered on that. I was going into my final years of high school and entering the fantastical realm of college and adulthood, so gaming wasn’t THE priority. I’d say my interests had moved on to making mistakes and dealing with terrible acne. When I did play, however, I chose what peaked my interests. “Assassin’s Creed II” was one of those titles. A magical experience that can only be described as, “living out my cinematic dreams”. Jumping off of rooftops, doing sick parkour maneuvers and sweet combat animations; it was what video-games were building up to, like the sweetest of crescendos.
I’m an adult now, or at least that’s what they tell me. The Playstation 4 emerges from the shadows, with an accompaniment of V-shaped guitars and a laser show reserved for an early Motley Crue show. It’s the end all, be all of gaming. I’m working now though, so I’m trying to function as a grown up, similar to a chameleon against tree bark. This is the era of “Metal Gear Solid V” (see how it all comes full circle?). It’s much less story-centric now, missions are shorter and the joy I receive from playing comes in much shorter bursts. It’s as though it was tailor made for the children that grew up with the series. They have less time to invest, but still want to be one of the “in” crowd. The more memorable moments come from individual gameplay experiences, as opposed to a linear narrative based experience. Maybe it’s a metaphor for life? Perhaps joy is meant to be created as opposed to being a “hand-held” walk through the park with it all laid out for you. I think I’m reading too much into it and should probably go outside more.