I've been talking to my friends a lot about Star Wars in the last few days. After seeing The Force Awakens this past Friday, I've just been buzzing about it. A lot of these conversations wind up being about comparing elements of the old to the new, or about the structure of the original trilogy and why we love it the way we each respectively do.
In thinking about the past, and my youth - I saw Star Wars as a kid first, then the prequels only a short time after - I start thinking about other defining lights of that period in my life.
A huge thing to me was the Game Boy.
I had my nose buried in a Game Boy Color, and then Advance, for a good few years in my young life. Probably between ages 7 through 14, if I had to put an estimate on it. I carried it with me everywhere.
I loved handheld games before I had the opportunity to love console games or PC games. It's where I really started my gaming life.
Of course, a huge part of why I got invested in to handheld gaming so much is because of Pokemon.
Pokemon Blue, to be specific. For a long time (and still now, If I'm being honest) I divided people into two camps: Pokemon Red Players or Pokemon Blue Players.
Well, I would, except it never works like that. Mostly it's people who Did or Did Not Play Pokemon. Then from there it's who Loved or Didn't Love Pokemon. Then we get down to Red or Blue.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with all you Pokemon Red Players. I'm just saying Pokemon Blue Players are immeasurably better than you in every way, nah-nah-na-boo-boo.
(Image from Themrock on DeviantArt)
Of course, then you get to the starters, which even further divides every person.
But that's not the important bit here. What I'm saying is that Pokemon was a monumental game for my developing years, and in weird ways, taught me a lot of stuff, some of which I still hold on to.
It taught me the value of a save file. There was only one slot, so every save mattered, in that a do-over could mean terrible loss.
I learned to value battery life. I don't know whether it's true or whether it was just my dad not wanting to hear the 8-bit musical goodness that the soundtracks could be, but I was told that playing with the sound off could conserve battery life. It was tough, not hearing the music of it, but to me, if it meant a longer life, I went for it.
My Pokemon showed me how much I could get attached, on a sentimental level, to a game. I felt genuine little-kid love for my Pokemon. They had names. The had personalities. (I may have liked some more than others)
I think that might have been the biggest lesson from it all. I think, in some way, feeling connected to a game like that opened me up to appreciate games as art now, as the small Guinea Pig construction worker that I am.
So thank you, Pokemon. On a bigger level, I guess thanks Nintendo. I know I'm a Sony man now, but thanks for giving me the leg up.