Not every post I write is about game news, something I’m currently playing, or the state of affairs in the game industry. Sometimes, I simply like to discuss gaming in general. In this particular case, I want to discuss gaming over the years, where my interests have grown, and where I am now. As I’ve actually gotten a small number of readers to my site, I’ like to open this one up for discussion, and see your own views as well.

I’ve been playing video games since the late 1970’s (scary, isn’t it?). I started out with a home version of Pong that my sister had, but didn’t really hit my stride until the Atari 2600 entered our home one early Christmas. Considering that my other toys were from The Empire Strikes Back, I’d say that would put things around ’79-’80.

So my first games were arcade games. Both in the actual arcade, and of course, versions of games like Asteroids, Missile Command and Space Invaders at home. My other big games were Adventure and Superman.

And then Pac-Man hit, and that changed everything.

“Pac-Man Fever” wasn’t just a song. It was a way of life for a gamer back then. The record, the cartoon, T-shirts, lunchboxes, toys, and so on. But there were other games, too: Donkey Kong, Tron, Gorf, Centipede, Ms. Pac-Man…. And of course, Activision came on the scene, pushing the VCS places where even Atari’s programmers didn’t take it. Pitfall! was a precursor for things to come for me. And during this time, I also played a lot of Intellivision and Colecovision, which was a more accurate arcade experience.

So my first phase was arcade gaming. The next phase came with the Apple IIc.

The Apple IIc brought in a whole new world for me, namely Sierra’s 3D adventures, and text based adventures. There was also my own curiosity in taking advantage of that little computer, and learning enough BASIC to start making my own games. Part hacker, part homebrew.

The NES was the next phase, with Super Mario Bros., Castlevania, Mega Man, and Ninja Gaiden. I loved platformers, and there wasn’t much to distract me from that genre of game, although the original Legend of Zelda had a lot of similarities of those old Sierra games in terms of exploring a more realized world that didn’t just scroll left to right.

But the Sega Master System was there too, which introduced me to Phantasy Star, and even more immersiveness with RPG games. Which inevitably led to games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior.

In many ways, platformers and RPGs remain my genres of choice, which was ideal for the 16-bit era. Both the Genesis and Super NES had tons of quality games in both categories, so I was set.

But arcades were still strong during that time. And fighting/brawling games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Street Fighter II, and Mortal Kombat dominated the arcades. Mortal Kombat was different from all the rest, as it took a more personal connection with me than any game prior, putting me into the game industry, and fighting games became my business… and my paycheck.

During the Playstation/Nintendo 64 era, my platformers went from 2D to 3D, and I still played RPGs, which Playstation had an abundance of (Final Fantasy VII, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Super Mario 64, and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time fit that bill quite well).

And yet, my time at Midway also got me into another genre: Racing games. The RUSH series, and Star Wars: Episode I: Racer, became an all-consuming obsession for quite a while.

Years later, I left Midway to go to college, but I still gamed. My new interest landed with Dance Dance Revolution as it was fun and more interactive than other joystick-based games. My interest had been piqued by Parappa the Rapper, but DDR, but me into the music gaming scene. Then of course, there was the Dreamcast, with Samba de Amigo and Space Channel 5, but there was also Phantasy Star Online to keep my RPG fix going. Playstation 2 gave me enough RPGs to play with, and Nintendo still had their tried and true platformers and adventure titles on the Gamecube.

As I enter the Xbox 360/Wii/DS/PSP phase, I find it interesting to see where my interests are going. I still like adventure games (Bioshock) and RPGs (Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion), and even music games (Rock Band), but my tastes are regressing. With the advent of downloadable content and the continuation of compilations, I’m going back to more arcade oriented experiences (Pac-Man: Championship Edition, Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe, Street Fighter IV, Space Invaders Extreme). 3D interests are turning 2D again (Mega Man 9, Retro Game Challenge, New Super Mario Bros., Braid, Castle Crashers), and even my adventure/RPG gaming interests are going back to turn based and point and click (Penny Arcade Adventures, Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People).

From arcade-action to adventure point and click to platformers to RPGs to fighters to racers, to rhythm/music to new versions of older style games…. Is there a point that we have gone so far into gaming only to return almost back where we started as “new”? I’m back to playing arcade-like updates of 20+ year old games and genres. I’m playing gaming compilations. I’m looking for more pointing and clicking and taking turns in my epic battles, and I’m back to approximating experiences on my consoles with friends where it is the equivalent of placing a quarter on the controller and calling “next”. Whereas people were tiring of 2D sprites for a while, are now getting excited when any new games touts that it’s going “old-style” in look and feel.

With all the complexities and promises of exploring never-ending worlds with gaming these days, feeling like I’m back in the arcade, or sitting on the floor with a console (see Retro Gaming Challenge for that visual), I guess in this current phase, I’m a “Retro” gamer. No wonder Street Fighter IV and Sonic’s Ultimate Gaming Collection have been holding my interest the most these days.

So I ask you, dear reader, what kind of gamer are you? What kind of gamer have you become?

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