When I was around five or six, my cousin Lindsay, who is eight years older than me, got me into video games. She and her sister had a NES and a Genesis at her house before I had anything and when I spent time there she showed me the ways of Zelda, Castlevania, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Once she hooked me I never looked back, and to this day the Legend of Zelda series is something that me, Lindsay, and her sister Cassie all bond over. I’ve always thought it was so cool that She passed down these older games for me, and Recently, I realized I’ve been doing the same with a younger family member for a while now.
Although I am eight years older than my youngest cousin, Katie, she and I have always been close. We both are the odd balls in our families who tend to slip into (mild) obsessions over geeky things, we both are a little awkward and have a quirky sense of humor, the list goes on. On Christmas this year, while I was showing her the port of NiGHTS into Dreams for the PS3, She said something that really made me think.
She said, “We used to play Christmas NiGHTS every year, I’m glad we are playing it again, it’s like we brought back a tradition.” And I realized, she was right. I had created a special gaming tradition just for us, and as I kept thinking about it, I realized how big a role my sharing video games with her has had on our friendship.
I had taken on the role of gaming mentor, and frankly had run with it much farther than my cousin Lindsay. When she was little and felt bored or lonely, I taught her how to play games like Virtua fighter and Soul Calibur. These days she’s better than me at fighting games. When we spent a rainy summer together on a lake in New Hampshire, when I was sixteen-seventeen I showed her NiGHTS, Burning Rangers, Pokemon Red, and Kirby’s dreamland. For years after, she collected and played the hell out of every Kirby and Pokemon game she could get her hands on. Katie is fourteen now. I’ve not only been fortunate to share my favorite games with a wide eyed kid who was eager to learn and listen, I’ve got the chance to help shape her tastes with one of her favorite hobbies, Video Games.
A couple of days ago Katie came to visit me at my mothers house while I am home on winter break, and The first thing we did was run downstairs and sit by the big TV in the family room and race each other in Sega and All Stars Racing: Transformed. After only one game I realized, I don’t have to go easy on her anymore. She’s talented enough and strong enough to make her way through any game on her own without me holding her afloat. It was a great feeling, made even better when she beat my score in Rez on the Dreamcast. (Well, It did sting a little, but then I felt proud.)
As we wrapped up the afternoon she started going through my Saturn games. As I watched her flip past Panzer Dragoon and Virtua cop, I asked her, “Do you ever get bored with these old video games? I mean, I bet there are a bunch of people who might find playing old game weird or uncool.” She frowned at me and said, “Really? That’s dumb. They must have never actually played NiGHTS or Sonic 2.”
“Are you sure? Because we can go back and play some more PS3 games if you’d like to play something new.”
She popped the game out of her DS and tossed it over to me. The game card was an Atari compilation.
“I like playing old games, especially with you. You know all stuff people don’t talk about. Let’s plug this in,” She said pointing to the Saturn, “I want to play.”
The little girl I’ve baby-sat has grown up into a full sized gamer, and I couldn’t be prouder. Katie, this one’s for you.