Okay, “Gamer” is probably way too grand a term for what I am, at best I’m a “Casual Gamer”, but more likely I’m simply a “Wannabe”.
A wannabe is something though, right?
For me the world of computers began in 1985, with the release of the Amstrad CPC464. On this 4 MHz, 64 Kbit 8 bit machine I would write programs and play games. It was probably the early 1990’s when it was finally sold, but not replaced, and I was without a computer for another five years.
In those early years the Amstrad (or Arnold as he was affectionately known by owners) taught me a surprising amount about how computers work that has changed little to this very day, and it also provided me with many, many hours of pure entertainment to boot!
During those early years I was a Gamer, though the term would not be coined for some time after, and every weekend I would read the magazines and peruse the shelves of the many computer shops in the city centre on the look out for something special.
During the years after Arnold (perhaps I should write that After Arnold, or A.A.) my friends continued playing games but I fell out of love with the hobby. I would visit them and play casually, but the bug did not bite me again for some time. I’m not sure why this happened, there were some great games on offer in those years and to many those years are the Golden Age of computer games; and for good reason.
It was a bad time for me, so perhaps I didn’t bury myself in games because this is a pastime that only becomes apparent when I am in my comfort zone rather than out of it.
Perhaps this is why over the last few years, since 2001 or so my interest in gaming has slowly returned.
Perhaps it’s because I’m so much happier now.
Of course Resident Evil had an awful lot to do with it too.
Between 1990 and 2001 there were lots of great games that I enjoyed great deal. The mid-90’s were especially active with games such as Tomb Raider (1996) and Resident Evil (1996) and this led to an explosion of similar games. For me the most notable of these were the Clock Tower series (the first of which actually predates Resident Evil by a year, but it was only released in Japan) which is a drastically under appreciated series of games that would appeal to people who followed the Silent Hill series.
The Survival Horror genre was right up my alley and I found a lot of these I would consume ravenously. A few years later this evolved into my two favourite games in the genre: Dino Crisis (1999) and Silent Hill (1999).
(Incidentally I think both these game series could do with a rerelease in much the same way that Resident Evil had. Dino Crisis especially would find a new audience with relative ease; of course Silent Hill still has its fans regardless, and the beautiful simplicity of that particular game was served well by the original PlayStations’ graphics anyway.)
Then in 2001 Final Fantasy X was released and for me the rug was pulled out from beneath my gaming world.
Playing Final Fantasy X was a little like having the most perfect relationship ever, and then having it end abruptly. After I had been jilted by the game I had a brief flirtation with it later under the guise of Final Fantasy X-2, but after this gaming simply wasn’t the same.
Everything else just wasn’t as good; so I gave up for a time.
I replayed old favourites, dabbled in the odd new release but nothing caught my eye after that. Friends would push me to play this game or that game, much like a friend might try to get you back into the dating world after a rough break-up; but my reaction was the same.
I simply had no interest.
I continued to play the games in the series that had already established a foothold, but these became few and far between. The only ones of note to me were Silent Hill 3 and 4, the Resident Evil’s continued but the forth episode in the series killed any interest I had in them.
I sometimes think that it was Resident Evil 4 that drove the last nail in gaming’s coffin for me. I purchased it eagerly and was dismayed by the lack of painted backgrounds and suspense laden storytelling. Instead I was presented by something more akin to the first person shooters that never appealed to me (at least at the time). The game was undeniably well made, with lush set pieces and intricate gameplay, but everything that had drawn me to those games had been discarded.
So for a time there was a drought of new games, my interest only fed by the old games I had grown up with.