Hey! I’m Nick from Brisbane, Australia. I love video games and my wife :)
Below is a wall of text. It's and incomplete story about me & video games.
My passion for gaming began with the Game Boy Pocket. When I was 8 my parents brought one home from Big W with Pokemon Blue Version, I was instantly hooked. I put an unbelievable amount of hours into that game after school and during the holidays, and it wasn’t long until my Pokedex was full with all 151 Pokemon (thanks to my friends and a trusty link cable). It was such a simple game which spawned a lifelong obsession -- I have yet to miss a main entry Pokemon game since 1998! Pokemon games hold a special place in my heart and transcend my list of favourite games.
The first experience I ever had with a home console was when I would go over to a friend’s house to play Wave Race 64. At first I thought it was strange and difficult, and I never really got used to it. However, when I attended after-school care they had a Nintendo 64 with 4 controllers so we could play Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 64. I would wipe the floor with most of the other kids there.
When I got my own Nintendo 64 for Christmas, I would sit for hours playing Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Pokemon Stadium, Pokemon Snap and Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Looking back on my collection now, I have about 25 games that my parents were generous enough to buy for me. But the one game that I saved all my pocket money for, and bought myself, was Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I had to enlist the help of my friend’s older brother to help me clear some of the trickier dungeons that I couldn’t fathom as a child, but I did end up finishing it and playing through it multiple times myself. It’s still one of my favourite games of all time, and it was definitely worth saving for. I also picked up Majora’s Mask which I understood was quirky and different, but never put in the hours to finish it.
The next gaming console my parents bought for me was the PlayStation. This is where my childish self wanted to grow up. No more cartoon looking games I told myself. Enter: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. I would wake up every Saturday morning and jump out of bed to play that game, stringing together combos well into the afternoon, only stopping for mum’s amazing cooking (she used to be a chef at a lodge in Taupo, NZ). I would eventually swap that disk out for Final Fantasy 8 where I would use my skills gained from Pokemon to progress through the ranks of SeeD. After playing these types of games, I started to miss those ‘cartoon’ games, and went back and played hours of Crash Team Racing and Ape Escape.
The PlayStation 2 was when I really understood the cost of gaming, and I realized that my parents had spent over $1100 AUD on the console + games + accessories at launch, just for me. So I took extra care with this console, always remembering to be careful with the disks, and keep them in their correct case (an excellent habit that I still have today). My love for Tony Hawk games ended after 3, which was right around the time that Final Fantasy X was released. I put over 500 hours into FFX across multiple 100% playthroughs, obtaining all of the fully upgraded Ultimate Weapons and mastering the game of Blitzball (I don’t get the hate that some people have for Blitzball, it’s fun and easy!). There are few games I have played as much as Final Fantasy X, and it’s definitely one of my favourite games of all time.
Hot off the heels of FFX was a little game called Kingdom Hearts. Hey, it’s got those Final Fantasy characters I know, and Disney characters too! God I loved this game, another one for my personal hall of fame. I spent hours killing the Heartless, or creating a new game and fighting on the beach with Tidus and Wakka.
During the last year of primary school I was debating with my friends whether to get a GameCube or Xbox. When decision time rolled around, I asked my parents (Santa) for the GameCube because I adored everything Nintendo. Sadly, this was the most under-used console I received and basically ended up being a Super Smash Bros Melee machine that I would play with my friends.
One Saturday afternoon I was out shopping with my parents and I recall standing in front of a wall full of Zelda: Wind Waker games on display, and I thought to myself how they ruined it by making Link look all weird and unrealistic. I was a kid and didn’t know any better so I’m not even going to try defending that. I have since bought the game, played it and loved it, but this is probably my biggest gaming regret. Playing it back then would have been a perfectly organic experience, but going back to it years later I had all kinds of preconceived notions about what I was getting into.
Sprinkled through this gaming era was the purchase of the Game Boy Color, Advance and Advance SP which were used as my Pokemon machines for when I was on holidays or just sick of sitting in front of a TV and wanted to play something in bed.
On Christmas day 2002, my parents (Santa) finally got me that Xbox with Halo. I was instantly hooked on this amazing first person shooter. I had never seen anything like it. Many nights and weekends were spent playing split screen co-op with friends, and exploring that game high and low for strange glitches and easter eggs. This was also the first game where I completed every difficulty solo, at the offensively young age of 12. (Fun Fact: the smell of Lynx Africa reminds me of the beginning of the second level).
After this stage of my life, my parents decided it would be great to uproot and move to New Zealand to live closer to my granddad because he was very unwell.
Since the exchange rate was pretty decent when we moved over to NZ, my parents decided to buy me a laptop (and a double bed (I’m tall, so this was probably more appreciated)). 14 years old and I had just got my own first computer. It wasn’t built for gaming, so I would continue to play my PS2, Xbox and GameCube. At first I would use the dial-up after school to look up Final Fantasy and Halo walkthroughs and easter eggs, then I was introduced to my first MMO – Ragnarok Online.
I was friendly with a handful of kids in NZ that shared my interest in video games. One of them (Doug) introduced me to Ragnarok Online which was a Korean MMO that he had got on a demo disk in a PC magazine. This is the world I would escape to after school when some of the less friendlier kids of NZ would give me a hard time for being from Australia. A few weeks went by, logging on after school and meeting up with my friend to kill toads or whatever. He eventually stopped logging on, but I couldn’t. I needed this place, this escape. I was constantly harassed at school and never fit in. Lunch time would roll around and I would find a quiet corner of the school and eat by myself when my so-called friends were too busy for me. I couldn’t wait to get home.
My main character in RO was a swordsman named Xcalibur. I grew attached to him, but Korean games are notoriously grindy which meant leveling up took ages. Stumbling through the main city of Prontera, I met a character named Riff_Raff from the guild Raffindale and got to chatting. He helped me out with leveling and gave me a bit of advice which I will never forget, which was “How do you eat an elephant?” -- “Slowly”.
I would eventually learn that his name was Rob and that he lived really close to where I used to live back in Australia (small world!). I was well aware of the creepy people of the internet, but after playing RO with him for a few months I got to know him, his girlfriend, his sister and others from his family - all very lovely people.
Halo 2 launched while we were still living in New Zealand and I still remember my mum coming home from work with that steelbook and a poster. Fun times. Played a lot of it, but it just wasn’t the same without my Australian friends with me.
As if I wasn’t already hating New Zealand enough, it went ahead and gave me a one-two punch in the form of my granddad passing away, and my GameBoy Advance SP being stolen from my own birthday party. Here’s the REAL kicker: my parents couldn’t claim the Game Boy on insurance without a police report for a stolen/missing item, which meant that the police had to go to my three friends houses and interview them. They didn’t understand why that had to happen, so they just thought I reported them all to the police for theft. I had zero friends after that.
We were in New Zealand for a grand total of 9 months before I had enough of the hateful New Zealand kids of Cambridge High School. I was in tears, pleading with my parents to go back home, back to Australia. Thank god we did.
As expected, I fell straight back into where I was with all my friends at school like I had never left. I brought with me Ragnarok Online, which I got my two closest friends to play. We ended up all being part of Rob’s guild and eventually going around to his place for a BBQ and to meet all his family and other guild members who could make it. On the way home from the guild BBQ, my parents said they had a surprise for me. I would be getting a new desktop computer of my very own for my birthday a few weeks later.
The more I write this, the more I realise just how amazingly supportive my parents were with this little hobby of mine, and how much I appreciated everything they have done for me.
After playing Ragnarok Online for the best part of three years, I only got one character to level 99 (the max level). No, not Xcalibur, it was a Monk named -Zeus- who would eventually transcend to become a Champion.
Near the end of high school I was a little more focussed on school, friends, and girls (duh!). So I didn’t actually play a lot of games during this time. However, on my birthday in 2006 I awoke to the sound of my parents walking into my room holding a nicely wrapped box. Inside was an Xbox 360 with Saint’s Row. I promptly took the day off school and played the hell out of that game. I do have one distinct memory of my girlfriend at the time getting pissed off because I played a ton of Halo 3.
I got lucky right near the end of high school in 2007 because I fell in love my best friend and future wife – Elisabeth. Then I got a full time job straight after school that paid for my tertiary education (and my gaming habits).
The beginning of 2008 and onwards was when I really got back into gaming.