LIVING LIFE, ONE VIDEO GAME AT A TIME | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:25 AM, September 19, 2019

LIVING LIFE, ONE VIDEO GAME AT A TIME

The early 2000s. A five year old me, whose knowledge regarding computers was limited to only turning it on and off, and navigating to the folder where all the video games could be found, was baffled by the amazing things his 32-bit computer system could pull off. At school, I remember telling my friends that I had a “white computer with Windows 98” when they would ask me about my PC. None of us were that well versed in computer lingo back then, and thus, this rather poor description of the then modern day wonder, was accepted quite easily between us friends.

Now that I recall the memories of those days, and compare the modern day computing system to that white one in my living room, I feel quite amazed as to how far we have come. Yet, that white setup kept me entertained when boredom reached its peak, and gave me the opportunity to experience the life I was either not allowed to have back then or I was missing out on.

It all started with my fascination for cars, and my need for speed. Being able to drive that red Ferrari F50 through the Australian outback was an ecstatic feeling. During my leisure hours or after a hectic study session, I would go out for a casual drive across the country side. But the thing that made me really happy, was being able to race.

I would speed down the Mediterranean track in my McLaren or Ferrari, and would leave my opponents trailing behind me. The speed, the adrenaline, and above all, the ability to race safely inside the comfort of my living room was what made Need for Speed II one of my most favourite games of all time.

One day though, I decided to take a break from street racing and instead, felt like taking a stand against organised crime. Now, unlike Batman, I did not have a vigilante nightlife nor was I a billionaire. But what I did have was my computer and in it, a game called Virtua Cop 2.

As far as old school arcade shooting games go, nothing can really beat Virtua Cop 2. Developed by SEGA, this classic 90s game was something you could enjoy on a weekend, when you had the whole day to yourself. No school, no studies, it was just me in my own adventure as a city cop. The stages were fun and interactive. You could not get bored with this game as each time you play it, you tend to get better at it.

SEGA didn’t stop there. It went on to gift us another fan favourite light shooting arcade game known as The House of the Dead. Here, instead of criminals, you will be fighting zombies. You are tasked with the duty to save your fellow humans from these half dead creatures. Back in the day, House of the Dead and its sequels were the best horror themed games kids could get their hands on.

As a child, I was never a sports fan, let alone play any. All that changed during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007. The joy and laughter a game of cricket can give to its fans was something that got me hooked to it. Now, I didn’t have any open field where I lived (quite natural in this city). So, I opted for the best alternative I could find. Yes, I got myself Cricket 07. 

EA did an amazing job with the game, apart from the fact that they got most of the players’ names wrong. The graphics wasn’t that bad for a game developed in 2006. I made up series, tournaments, and won them all playing as Bangladesh. The Ashes was something else I also enjoyed. Being put into the shoes of some of the biggest cricketers, during some of cricket’s most memorable moments, was something I will always cherish. 

Fast forward to 2009, and I somehow found myself becoming a fan of another sport. Football. I was baffled by the intensity of football matches, and how a game of only 90 minutes could deliver so much. Although I got hooked to football, cricket was still my favourite sport and hence, I didn’t bother buying the football video game that was FIFA, another piece of work by EA. But all that changed after a hangout at a friend’s place. 

We were bored and needed something to do. My friend then took out a controller and connected it to his PC, suggesting that we play “some FIFA”. I wasn’t really excited about it, but decided to give it a shot anyway. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. 

The very next day, I got myself a copy of the game and started my journey as a football manager. The game I got for myself was FIFA 10 for PC. This was the first ever football game I bought. The graphics were amazing, the gameplay was smooth, and the feeling was ecstatic. The more I played the game, the more addicted I grew to football. I sought comfort in this game every time I had to see Manchester United lose a match, and I still do, now more than ever.

Over the years, I have played a ton of video games, many of which I would still love to play today. But if I had to choose one game, and one game only, to play for the rest of my life, it would have to be Pokémon.

Pokémon – the franchise – made our childhood joyous and beautiful. It gave us a lot to cherish and is still busy doing so. The anime that aired on Cartoon Network every evening on weekdays was watched by millions around the world. But it wasn’t just the anime that made Pokémon the phenomenon it is today. A lot of this popularity came through the games the franchise have given us.

Seeking adventure can be a difficult task, especially when you are just nine or ten years old with no sense of direction or monetary spending. But who needs to go out on a real adventure when you can do so on a Gameboy. For me, the journey started with something called Pokémon Yellow.

I stepped out of Pallet Town and never had to look back again. Day after day, I would wait for school to end just so that I could go back home and boot up my console. Yellow was just the start of my adventures. Over the last ten years or so, I have played Pokémon Gold, Silver, Crystal, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. I would’ve gone on to play the more recent ones as well, but unfortunately, I couldn’t get my hands on a 3DS. I do plan on buying one soon though, and start again from where I left off. This entire world and all its nonsense will bore me to death someday. But not Pokémon.

And then came Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar Games took us all for a ride we could never forget. My experience of open world games was limited to only GTA and Skyrim. But they were more than enough to keep me entertained. GTA was the game I turned to when I couldn’t figure out what to play. And just like everyone else, I too tried to drive like a normal person on the streets of Los Santos every now and then.

Time and time again, I revisited some of the older games I played. I also went ahead and dedicated a lot of my time finishing comparatively newer ones as well. Need For Speed was always fun to play, especially the games Porsche Unleashed, Most Wanted, Underground 2, and Carbon. I also enjoyed playing Resident Evil, which to me was an upgraded version of House of the Dead, with better graphics and a good storyline. Remember WWE: SmackDown! vs Raw? I used to make up my own scripts and imagine it all taking place as actual television episodes. I might have left out a lot of other games I’ve played on different consoles, but that doesn’t mean that those games played a lesser role in my childhood entertainment.

Video games give us the opportunity to be something that we are not, and perhaps something we can never be. They allow us to do the unthinkable, and live the impossible.

I was the king of street racing at the age of maybe five or six, and I would come out of each of those races without a single scratch on my body. For a kid who was afraid to sleep with the lights off, I did pretty well for myself when it came to hunting down zombies and saving the world. Be it football or cricket, the least athletic kid, was the one won winning every single match. I became a Pokémon master in my teenage years. Ash Ketchum’s dream was my reality, and now that he has finally become a Pokémon master after 22 years, the dream has come true.

Although video games can never be the alternative for actual experiences, they do come pretty close to the real deal. For many people, video games are not just tools for entertainment, it means a lot more to them. Competitive gaming is a sporting event now. Streaming your in-game campaigns can earn you your living. Gaming is one of the few cultures that is appreciated all around the world.

So, while everyone else is busy with other things, we will stick to our video games. If the world is something that is becoming a burden to us, or becoming unbearable, don’t worry. We will build our own little virtual world in the corners of our rooms.

 

Faisal wants to be the very best, like no one ever was. To survive university is his real test, to graduate is his cause. Send him memes and motivation at abir.afc@gmail.com

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