When I was five or six years old I was small, tiny, and pixelated. Okay, maybe I wasn't made of pixels but I definitely wanted to be. If you didn't already realize this, then I'll just say it:
My very first video game was the very good Mega Man 2.
I remember playing this game -- or any iteration of it (six is my personal favorite because it was the easiest one for me) -- every night with my brother and not really understanding what was going on but enjoying it anyone.
Not only were these games amazing -- by the way, they still are -- they helped me get through some weird times and taught me a lot about myself during my small, tiny, and pixelated days.
As you can see above, Mega Man is the smallest guy on the screen. That's you, that's the player. And you have to fight that giant snake pipe thing, I guess. Most of the game is like this. You only really have one weapon to choose from at the start and everything is trying to eat you or turn you into robot-boy dust.
At school, I was the smallest guy in class. I was picked last in gym class, I was given wedgies, and literally everyone was bigger than me. Apparently, when you're tiny in elementary school that means you're the one getting beat up and pushed in the sand everyday.
So I'd go home, play this game, see this tiny robot-boy do very cool things, and stand up for himself against robots that were a lot larger than him. And I, as the impressionable young pixel-boy, took all I could from this and fought my own battles. Sure, I still got my head put in the sand but at least I fought back this time, right?
In every Mega Man game, after you press start you're presented with the screen above. It acts as a level select and gives the player some freedom in how they should play the game. It's Mega Man's objective to defeat all the other Mans and then Dr. Wily. And he can decide how he wants to go about it. Does he want to fight Heat Man first? Or Crash Man? Or Bubble Man? I don't know, it's up to him [you].
But as you play, you realize there's an actual strategy when it comes to choosing the level you want to start at. Since you gain that a Man's power once you defeat him, you realize that other Man's are weak against certain other Man's (this part is super confusing, I'm sorry, it's almost done).
Anyway, this screen and the way this game is played is kind of a reflection of life. You have different paths in front of you once you're born -- in this case the paths are the different Robot-Mans -- and it's up to you decide which way you're going to go. You can make bad decisions or good ones (the parallel here is that when you pick the right path in Mega Man you can get through the game a lot easier, if you pick the bad ones then you'll struggle your way to the end).
I carried this with me throughout my whole life. With the help of Mega Man, I learned at a young age that I always have a choice. And no matter what choice I make, good or bad, I still have another decision to make in front of me. Sure, I can regret fighting Heat Man first or something but that doesn't change the fact that I have to move on with my life, er, I mean the game.
There are plenty of Mega Man games in the series now, some of them even re-imagine him as an older person. But to me, he'll always be the little robot-boy that I saw myself as.
If it wasn't for Mega Man, I'd probably, maybe be a different person than the one I am now. I'd probably be a lot less obsessed video games, too, but I'm glad I'm experiencing the "Paul played a bunch of Mega Man games" universe instead of some other, boring, more successful one.
Well, that was my Video Game Origin Story, thanks to @VinMcCarthy for reminding me that Mega Man is simply the best.