Christmas Day, 1998,
Presents under the tree await.
I opened books, I opened socks,
When in the back I saw a box.
It was so big it barely fit,
Behind the tree, (hidden a bit)
I thought I knew, but wasn’t sure
But within was my sixty-four!
Wrapped with the system I could see,
A game called Banjo Kazooie
Before I tried my first system
My parents made me promise them:
“I will not play through all the day,
or it will be taken away.
And if it interferes with work
I’ll lose my brand new gaming perk!
But in the end I was a fool.
I found myself breaking the rule.
While the N64 was my first home game console, it was not my first video game system or my first major exposure to gaming. My cousins Lindsay and Cassie who lived a couple towns over had an NES and a Sega Genesis and since I was a frequent visitor I played both systems extensively. A couple of years earlier I was given a Sega Game gear for Christmas in 1995. Similar rules were established when I got the Game Gear: Don’t take it to school, don’t play it all day, etc. These rules never stopped me. In fact, having the Game Gear taught me how to break rules with video game limits. For example, there was a time when my parents took to taking the rechargeable batteries I used in the GG and confiscated them every night before bed. Being the sneaky little guy I was, I took a Costco pack of AA batteries and left them in my room so I could play at night.
I knew from the start that sneaking extra game time at night would be harder with the N64. Not only was it 100% not portable, at age 9 I was yet to have a TV in my room. It was kept in the family room, which could only be accessed by going past my parent’s room. At first I thought maybe I should just give up, but I had grown so addicted to exploring the worlds in Gruntilda’s castle and searching for Banjo Kazooie’s glorious array of collectibles that I knew I HAD to find a way. And after some careful planning, observations and notes, I came up with my scheme.
I had heard my mother mention that she had seen me, honest-to-god, not faking (yet) sleepwalking. That was the key. For two weeks I got out of bed late at night and intentionally got caught “sleepwalking” to establish a cover. Then, once the family was convinced with my acting, I became confident enough. I figured to sneak past my parent’s room and downstairs to play Banjo-Kazooie. My Dad caught me three days later. Luckily, I had prepared for it. I switched inputs to cartoon network with the remote and put on my zombie act. He fell for it hook, line, and sinker and walked me back to bed.
Over the next few weeks as I was succeeding in fooling my parents and having an increasingly difficult time staying awake I told friends of my accomplishments in the game. I bragged about my narrow escapes from Snacker the Shark and my victory through Freezeezy Peak and eventually found myself at Mad Monster Mansion. By this point I was playing through my daytime limit and hours into the night. I was exhausted. Once again, my dad made his way downstairs and caught me, but this time, my dedication to the bear and bird had betrayed me.
“What are you doing?” he asked confused and frustrated, “Are you playing video games??”
I was so focused on trying not to die in the game that I didn’t even think bout lying or covering my tracks. I just told him the truth. I told him. “Yeah, I am but just give me an thirty more minutes and I’ll be good.” Before I knew what happened, the system was ripped from the TV and was gone for a little over a month. When I got the N64 back I ran to go and finish my game, but the file was gone, replaced by a new save that hadn’t even gotten past Mumbo’s Mountain. It turns out that while my father had confiscated the system, my mother tried her hand at gaming for the first time since Pac-Man and erased my progress in the process.
After my mom erased my game
Banjo and friends just weren’t the same
But When my mind reflects on Rare
I smi’ling think of bird and bear