Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Origin of The Nerd (Part I: Video Games)

No, I'm not talking about the origin of the word "nerd" or even the origin of nerds as we know them. I'm going to do a three part series about how I got into the things I talk about most on this blog: Video Games, Comic Books, and Movies/TV Shows. I don't often write about myself, so this will be an interesting exercise. And maybe I'll connect with some readers who have had similar experiences, would like to get into new things, or want to talk about how they themselves got into the given subject.

I will, however, post the definition I most identify with when I think of nerd:

"A nerd is a person, typically described as being overly intellectual, obsessive, or socially impaired. They may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, obscure, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities. Additionally, many nerds are described as being shy, quirky, and unattractive, and may have difficulty participating in, or even following, sports. "Nerd" is a derogatory, stereotypical term, but as with other pejoratives, it has been reclaimed and redefined by some as a term of pride and group identity."
-Wikipedia (emphasis mine)

For this first installment, I want to talk about how I got into video games. Check it after the break.

The Nerd and his Video Games

My first. I don't think I ever had one that worked perfectly...
My first memories of video games would be playing an NES at my grandparents house. I don't remember the game, but I do remember my grandmother having a special fondness for the original Legend of Zelda, so I'd have to assume that.

Over the course of the years, I would end up living with my grandparents, and they always had a console in the house. Eventually, they'd come to have multiple consoles when the Sega Genesis was released. I'm not entirely sure how long into the Genesis' life span we first got it, but we ended up with multiple of them and even bought one for when we visited our great-grandmother, which we didn't even do that often. It's strange, because my family was never wealthy and neither of my brothers nor myself ever whined or begged for any of them (I imagine many parents buying video games to shut kids up -- I don't believe this was the case with us).

That being said, almost all of my fondest gaming memories are on the Genesis, playing couch co-op with my two brothers. My favorite game was General Chaos, while I believe my brothers were fans of the Mutant League games (which were undeniably awesome). I don't remember my grandmother playing much on the Genesis,but she absolutely loved the Toejam and Earl series. My grandfather really enjoyed the Wolverine game, and this is the only time I remember him actually playing video games.
Probably my favorite, when it's all said and done.

My grandparents' interest in gaming probably died with the Genesis, though they would support our gaming habits by keeping us up to date on consoles. The only Christmas I remember vividly in that house was when my brothers and I all got Game Boy Colors with the original Pokemon titles (I got Red, which is still one of my favorites).

The N64 was another amazing console for couch co-op, which made it an instant hit with us. I have no idea how many hours we put into Super Smash Bros. or how long I personally put into Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, but they must have been a substantial amount of our free time.

Around the time we got the Gamecube, I tentatively got into computer games, starting with Warcraft II. From there I didn't branch out much, mostly sticking to the Blizzard RTS lineup.

While the PS2 was out for awhile, we didn't get it until much, much later in its lifespan, which was a big shock when I found out that my favorite genre at the time, RPGs, had a ridiculous amount of amazing titles for the Sony system.

I'm fairly confidant that my PS3 was the first console I bought for myself. I was older, had money (well, fake money) to spend, and plenty of life changes were coming, not the least of which would be college. Couch co-op had slowly declined over the years, but when I went to college, it wasn't so bad. I didn't have much time for gaming for the first two years, and I left my PS3 with my younger brothers. For gaming I relied on a Game Boy Advance and board games, when I found the time. At one point I picked up a PSP, though I'm a bit hazy as to when. It never worked right and I only ever played the Final Fantasy Tactics remake on it, really.

I did, at one point (well, two, actually, but that's an overly long story), pick up a Wii. I only wanted it for a few key titles (Zelda, Smash Bros.), which I played sufficiently before stepping away from the Nintendo console lineup.

Game-changing. For me, anyway.
I would meet the girl I was to marry in college. Over the years, she has always been an instigator for potentially-poor-yet always-awesome ideas. She was with me when I bought my first Microsoft console (the X-Box 360, a few years after release), which changed the way I viewed online gaming (no one else I knew has a PS3, mind you). She pushed me to splurge on a Game Boy 3DS before we went on a surprise trip to Vegas. She didn't slap me silly when I purchased a Vita, and she bought me the amazing gaming desktop that has allowed me to play so many of the classic PC games I'd never gotten a chance to.

A few years back, I picked up a PSOne to play some other titles I never got the chance to, and my brothers bought me an X-Box original (because my 360 has never played original titles, for some reason). The only consoles I really never touched were the Super Nintendo, the Sega Saturn (which has SEVERAL titles I'm sad I'll never play), and any unusual devices that never got terribly big (there was a Sega handheld, I think).

For this upcoming generation of consoles, I'm interested to see what each has to offer. Initially, as I did last gen, I'll be going with Sony's PS4. I'm more interested in their launch titles, lower price, and initial focus on gamers. After a price drop and some more interesting titles, I'll take another look at the XOne. Similarly, the Wii U finally has some titles coming out that interest me, so here's hoping for a price drop or decent Black Friday deal in the near future.
Can't wait!

Ok, that was a bit long-winded and probably not super interesting to any non-gamers. Sorry! Check back next week when I get all misty-eyed thinking about my relationship with comic books!


  1. Very cool to read a retrospective of your gaming life. Though for such an RPG fan, I am shocked that you didn't have a Super Nintendo : ( Hopefully you've played a lot of the classics since.

  2. Bry, I have honestly only even seen a Super Nintendo once. And I believe I played Aliens vs Predator on it.

    It's on my lengthy list of vintage gaming to get to -- tempted to pickup a system that plays NES, SNES, and Genesis games I saw the other day...