And today in “Slightly too long-winded for a tweet…”
When I was a kid, my parents didn’t let me have a console.
Actually, that’s a lie. They didn’t mind us having one, but refused to buy one for us. Having a computer was fine – the logic being that we could do work / educational things on a computer, but game consoles serve no other purpose. (Interesting that 2/3rds of us children now make video games games for a living.)
So for most of my childhood, in the pre-Doom era when most of the “real” (read as: fast, arcadey, pretty) games were on consoles or Amiga. So when I wanted to play those kind of games, I had to go around to friends’ places.
One of my friends had a Mega Drive (what a Genesis was called down here in Australia), and another had a Super Famicom (A SNES – but his family was Japanese, so they got the latest funky tech from Japan whenever his dad went to visit).
So my experiences playing the two consoles were always at mates places after school. Now, I liked both my mates a great deal, but honestly? I think I preferred visiting my Nintendo Friend.
This caused a problem for me, because I actually preferred played Sega games. I didn’t analyse it much then, but I never got into Nintendo. Sega seemed cooler. The games were faster. More “adult” (well, from a ten-year-old’s perspective, anyway). More exciting.
(Also: yeah, so I was basically a complete little turd who decided which of his friends he liked more, and then ignored it because one had a cooler console. What a bastard past-Rohan was!)
So, I was a sega kid. When my brother and I finally saved up enough money to buy a console, we bought Sega. And Sega it remained, until finally Xbox happened and appealed to our teen-boy-machismo in the same way Sega had.
Now that I’m an Adult and the idea of spending a few hundreds bucks every now and again isn’t insane, I decided I’d buy a Genesis and some games, and re-visit them. This has been an interesting experience, as it’s made me start thinking critically about just why Sega appealed to me and Nintendo did not.
Lots of my friends now are hugely into Nintendo. They grew up with Mario, Zelda and Pokemon. They love them to bits, reference them all the time in their lives, wear the t-shirts and get all the jokes.
Not me. I never got it. But why? Learning more about Nintendo and the key games that people loved on the platform, it seems that given my general preferred genres were the slow, ponderous, thoughtful and complex games I played at home on my PC… I probably should have been a Nintendo person, not a Sega person.
I was a huge Ultima person. Shouldn’t I have really got into Zelda?
Having re-played lots of console stuff of late, and spent much of the past five years of my life living and breathing games and over-analysing their designs (as I now make the damn things for a living), I think I figured out why Sega did it for me.
It’s not so much that Sega was macho and Nintendo was cutesy. It’s about time constraints.
Visiting a friend’s place, we could sit down and play 20 minutes of Mortal Kombat here, or 15 minutes of Sonic there. That’s fine – most sessions of these games were short, and many of the games we played were built to be multiplayer.
By contrast… there was no way I was going over to my mate’s place and stealing his Famicom for long enough to play the hours and hours required to get into The Legend of Zelda. That’d be rude, even for ten-year-old Me!
So, that’s my theory: I never got into Nintendo simply because I didn’t own one. If I could kill hours at home on a Nintendo, I’m sure I’d be a die-hard Zelda fan today. But for me, as a kid, games were a social experience, and one you engaged in for a very limited about of time. So Nintendo was never going to be a thing. Certainly, not as big as short, sharp competitive games of the sort very common on Sega’s consoles.
Makes me wonder what my taste in games now would be like if my parents had bought me a Nintendo instead of buying us a busted-arse 286 with a version of BASIC that crashed and prompted me to learn to code… Heck, maybe I’d even like Mario! (Sorry, I can’t keep a straight face while typing that one)