In the sports and hobbies that everyone takes part in (gaming, football, movies), there are certain moments that define that activity for its participants. Perhaps it’s watching Fight club for the first time, or watching Daigo pull off a full parry against Justin Wong for a last second victory (Seriously, watch it), whether the audience is watching, or playing, makes no difference. Their favorite activity is solidified by that single moment, making it theirs.
I know that you readers out there have experienced something like this, or close to it, and I wanted to share mine with you, and hopefully you will share yours with me, and the rest of the community here at Gamer Limit.
When I was 11 or 12 (can’t quite remember) there was a little pizza place inside the military base in Okinawa, Japan. Nestled in the corner was a little room with several arcade units. I can only remember a couple of them, Wrestlemania, War Gods, and X-men vs. Street Fighter. I would go there with my family from time to time, and play the games while they ate their pizza. It was here that I realized my love for video games. Of course, I had a Super Nintendo and a Sega Genesis at home, but I was merely playing them to play then. I was not self-actualized. I didn’t know the love and admiration I carried in my veins for games, and the industry, until a fateful encounter I had with X-men vs. Street Fighter.
On a regular trip to the little fast food place (I don’t remember the name), I obliterated my pizza and begged my parents for a few quarters. They reluctantly handed me a dollar bill and I gleefully raced to the change machine. The four quarters that I received weren’t the best specimens, dented and covered with grit, and I worried that they wouldn’t work in the machine, or even worse, it would steal them. Nonetheless, I went to my favorite unit at the time, X-men vs. Street Fighter, and plugged the first quarter into the machine. Selecting my two favorite characters, Ryu and Wolverine, I began my quest to beat the game with my mere dollar.
After the first two matches were over, the easy ones, I realized that I was doing extremely well. I hadn’t lost a character in either match (something that always happened to me) and my combos, the little I knew, were connecting with more grace than Muhammad Ali. After the next set of matches, my prowess still intact, I wondered if I could beat the game before my parents were ready to leave.
It had already been 10 minutes and I knew that it was going to be close. I had beaten the game before, a handful of times, but it always took me 30+ minutes because I had to insert more quarters after the CPU would extinguish my flame a few fights before the final boss. However, this time was different. The CPU couldn’t touch me. My parents sat in their booth, unaware that their son had achieved a state of gaming nirvana. Every fireball and kick thrust my way was deftly parried or blocked with a flick of the joystick or a press of a button.
After a mere 20 minutes (roughly), I finally arrived at Apocalypse’s lair and his dastardly plot was a round away from being cut short. It was here that I heard a voice.
“Chase, time to go!”
It wasn’t the gaming gods telling me it was time to take Apocalypse down and save the universe…it was my parents. It was time to leave. I shouted back at them that I was almost finished, pleading that they give me more time. Grudgingly, they accepted my cries for an extension and I continued my onslaught against the final boss. A few minutes later, the credits began to roll. Plunging my hand into my pocket, I had to know if it was real, I rolled my fingers over the three remaining quarters.
For less than a pack of gum, I had saved the world.
Some of you may think this a small event, and it’s true. Relative to winning an entire tournament, or a championship, what happened in that little arcade didn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. But to me, it meant everything. It awakened my love for fighting games, and video games in general, and it brought to my attention that I might actually be good at something.
Growing up in High School, and middle school, I was the kid that played Pokémon behind the library, or read Piers Anthony books during class lectures. I never felt (as cliché as it sounds) that I was good at anything except reading, and it wasn’t until that arcade machine let me put in my initials for first place did video games transcend from something I did, to something I was. When someone asks me what I do, or who I am, I tell them I am a gamer.
Forgive the above ramblings, this was a childhood memory that I have always wanted to get down on paper. I hope you guys have experienced something similar, and I would love to hear about it.