I’m Game: Ryan Biggs — N64-ever
Games played a huge role in my childhood. Early on, my dad taught me the strategies of board games like Risk and Axis & Allies. I learned the art of dungeon-clearing by playing The Legend of Zelda on the original Nintendo. My fear of butchers will linger with me forever thanks to countless nights of booting up Diablo in DOS mode.
It’s difficult to say which game has influenced me the most, and instead of limiting my appreciation to a single game, I’d like to name the Nintendo 64 as the most influential piece of electronic hardware I’ve ever known.
I can still remember the day my family unwrapped the N64 and the way I felt when I saw Mario in three dimensional space. I remember being elevated to “cool kid” status, if only for a short while, because I was among the first to get the system. Although the N64 had fewer games (due largely to the aging ROM cartridges and hardware complexity for 3rd party developers) than PlayStation or the NES and SNES before it, many of the titles stand out as some of the most beloved games in history. Take, for example, games like Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64, StarFox, and GoldenEye.
Current fans of first-person shooters can thank GoldenEye for the way it revolutionized the genre. I would feel ungrateful if, before entering an online deathmatch to enact endless 1080p HD carnage upon my foes, I didn’t bow my head and give thanks to the team at Rare Studios who brought me GoldenEye in all its glory. While I don’t miss running around with “Slappers Only” calling out “Harm-melissa!” to my puberty-induced screen-peeking buddies, I do miss my beloved character of choice, “the guy in the flannel shirt.” Oh, and don’t you dare pick Oddjob. That’s cheap, bro.
What I enjoyed most about the N64 was the four controller ports and the time I spent with friends and family. To this day, visits to my parents’ house are hollow and incomplete without a little (un)friendly Super Smash Bros. brawling with my siblings. Starfox rules!
Is it bad that I’m often wishing to return to the days of N64 multiplayer where my biggest responsibility was mowing the lawn and taking out the trash?
Those were the good old days. Nintendo 64 taught me that playing alone is enjoyable, but playing with friends is the best thing in the world. This culture of gaming interaction, believe it or not, has taught me how to be a leader, to take the initiative, to think outside the box, and to solve complex problems. But more importantly for me, playing with friends built a camaraderie that will never be broken. I will forever know the characters of choice of my old N64 buddies, the tactics they employed, and their play styles, even though I haven’t seen them in years.
As I get older and have less free time in my life, I’m finding that single-player games bring less joy than they used to, yet by comparison my love for multiplayer games has not diminished. My wife says I’m anti-social because I don’t enjoy parties or hanging out in large groups. To her, and to you, I say that I am social in my own way. I may never be the life of the party. And that’s okay. We all build and maintain relationships differently. Hell, my brother-in-law found his wife playing World of Warcraft (and married her the first day he met her). For me, and for countless other gamers of all creeds and breeds, the social interaction we have playing games can be some of the most valuable experiences of our lives.