Big Sister

Everyone has their own ‘gaming origins’ story. My sister is the start of mine.

It was my sister who originally started my love of video games. Watching her type in long lines of coding into a battered old computer (don’t ask me to recall which model it was) to create pretty colours, or sitting with her doing other things while waiting for a tape to load. She played a big part in my early gaming education.

One Christmas, she got a Nintendo Entertainment System and that’s where things really started to take off. She may have asked if I wanted to play, or I may have grabbed a controller without approval, but we ended up playing it together for many hours. The game that came with it was the combination Super Mario Bros / Duck Hunt pack, and there were hours of entertainment making those little plumbers jump, or watching that little dog laugh at our bad aim. We teamed up to play silly games like McDonald Land, aka MC Kids (which was actually pretty fun) and even Probotector – the PAL version of Contra which substituted robots for beefy men as the main characters. She was my inspiration, teaching me how to play games, or at least pointing me in the right direction of things. Most of the time, I just enjoyed watching her play because the game seemed too difficult, or it was just more interesting to watch her play through something than struggle through it myself. But when I did want to have a go, she was always the person either teaching me how to play, or saving me when I got stuck on a level. When I hit a difficult patch, she would always be there to take over the controller for a brief moment.

Still got it!

As my sister grew older, her interest in video games faded slightly and mine developed more. Gaming involves a kind of practice, so after a time I was no longer asking my sister for help. My skills increased and so did my collection. The Game Boy was a companion of mine and I would sit for hours setting new records on Game and Watch Gallery, and eventually training my Pokémon. When I got a little older and started to understand that it was better to save lots of pocket money for a big reward instead of spending it on lots of little ones, the first thing it went on was a Pikachu Nintendo 64.

Nowadays, my sister could be described as the ‘casual’ gamer. When she comes to visit, we play co-op shooters together. One Christmas we worked through Halo 3 (taking it in turns to be ‘the bait’ for any enemies with giant gravity hammers) and occasionally we pick up Call of Duty.  Since gaming is one of my primary hobbies now, it’s only natural that I should lead when playing a game, and guide her through the difficult parts. When we play together, I’m reminded of how it used to be the other way around. When she gets swarmed by enemies, it’s me that has to sweep in to save her, or die trying, or die laughing at the end result (usually one or both of us blown up by a desperate grenade accidentally thrown by my sister right in my player’s face). She also enjoys watching me play visually interesting games, or games with a good story and puzzles like Legend of Zelda, and she is rather fascinated by exploding gems on Bejewelled. It’s very handy having another set of eyes, especially because my sister tends to be much better and more patient at puzzle-solving than me. She’s also very good as a vocalist on Rock Band or Singstar!

It’s good to know that even though gaming isn’t my sister’s primary hobby anymore, she still understands it, and is always open to giving something a go. She can still understand and participate in my hobby, and it’s always great fun to have her join in. When she comes around, she even pesters me to play Halo: Reach. It’s awesome that when I think about it, I really have my sister to thank for my hobby. She sowed the seeds, she really did.

I've got your back!

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3 responses to “Big Sister”

  1. Simon avatar
    Simon

    Susan! I spent my formative years on Probotector and McDonald Land. Were we in the same family?

    The trick to the former was using the classic Konami cheat. Completing it otherwise was surely impossible. The trick to the latter was publicly pretending that it wasn’t as good as Super Mario 3.

    We all know it was superior though.

  2. Mark P avatar

    Funnily enough it was my big sister that got me into gaming as well. We even took different routes at some point in our lives, similar to you and your sister did – she gradually stopped and I was the opposite.

    I mostly played it just to try and beat her at all the games! Those were the days.

  3. Susan avatar
    Susan

    @ Simon – If you also spent a lot of time on The Simpsons: Bart vs the Space Mutants then we might need to examine our family trees. I have a vague memory though of my sister completing Probotector :O She was that good!

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