Life is long and weird. That is the mantra I adopted as I entered my fifth decade sucking air on this planet. I won’t bore you with a life story; everyone’s got their own, most of them are only interesting to a few people. But let’s just say that every time I reached a point that seemed like a destination, a new journey began instead. Most of the time I didn’t even realize it. Suddenly I’d look back and wonder when I had left that other place. Then I’d shrug, and keep on moving. I have no idea whether or not this is true for most people. But I hope it is.
So, when accepting how few constants there are in life, it’s important to take stock of the things you carry with you. The things that survive the journeys. It’s a long road, and some hard choices have to be made. Once you’ve packed the important things, things like love, empathy, compassion, respect (both for yourself and others), what else do you make room for? There’re actual physical things of course, but believe me, they will all ultimately get lost or broken, and I’m sure by now you’ve gleaned that we’re not really talking about those here. There’s your career, your friends, your routines. These are all of great importance, but over the years you will lose some, either accidentally or on purpose, and you will find others. There will be pain in some of the losses and, hopefully, some joy in the findings. But again, life is long and weird, and time has a way of muting these transitions to the point that you will wake up one day and have trouble recalling those times. Lastly, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll have a little room left over in the backpack of things that make you you. You can use this space to carry your interests, your hobbies, your things that keep life weird.
Over the course of my life I’ve had several. I’ve been an avid reader since an early age, but that’s a bit of a red herring. Reading is a medium, not a message, and my tastes in words change faster than the Toronto weather. I’ve played and written music to various degrees of success, my interest ebbs and flows. My career has sparked a deep interest in food and wine. Cooking is a recent hobby of mine that I wouldn’t have seen coming in a million years. (Again, life is long and weird.) But the real constant for me is Nerd Culture.
Comics, movies, and of course, games. I haven’t actively collected comics since the early ’90s, but somehow I’ve always felt compelled to keep up with what’s going on. The rise of the internet has made being a comics poseur all the easier. Movies, much like reading in the paragraph above, covers a pretty wide swath of ground, but my tastes have always veered to the geek-side. I swear I could write a literary treatise on the merits and dangers of a utilitarian society based on Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and Paul Verhoeven’s brilliant film adaptation of it (tied with Stiller’s The Cable Guy for my favorite movie). Maybe I’ll write that treatise and publish it here.
But games, games man, that is the interest that has held me rapt at the altar for my entire life. I remember playing the 1983 vector based Star Wars arcade game with my Dad and my Uncle. The sound and feel of a pocket full of quarters in a noisy arcade. My first console was the Intellivision, I had no idea that was weird. My Dad was big into both the Commodore 64 and the Amiga. To this day I will still remember, out of the blue, some obscure game from those platforms and try to look them up. Space Taxi was a thing that existed, right? Am I the only one who remembers that? I’m a veteran of the Sega/Nintendo Console Wars (never forget). The death of Aeris was the first time a video game made me cry. It was not the last. I laughed when Microsoft announced they were entering the console market. And then I played Halo: Combat Evolved. I still ‘Main’ an Xbox console to this day. I wept when Nintendo put motion controls at the forefront of their strategy. The Wii will forever be a blindspot in my gaming history, no regrets.
But that’s the point here. We gamers of a certain age, we have a history. It’s been nearly 50 years. We are the first generation to have grown up alongside of the electronic games industry. We are the reason Nerd Culture doesn’t hide in the basement anymore.
So as we all carry on with our long, weird journeys, this space is carved out for those things that might not be crucial, but they sure feel important. We have a decades-long collective experience… Let’s share it here.