Monday, May 30, 2011

A Gamer Looks at Thirty 「30歳になったゲーマー」

Today is a big day: my 30th birthday.  Measured in console years, I'm about 480 years old.  That's saying something, I guess.  I've watched the industry grow and expand since the beginning of the NES era, (1983 in Japan and 1985 in the US) and it has been quite a ride.  Gaming has moved from motion-sensing Power Gloves to... motion sensing Wii Remotes.  Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

As gaming has aged, series that have shown staying power have begun to get well-deserved recognition.  Even relative newcomers such as 戦国無双 (Samurai Warriors), released in 2004, and 戦国Basara (Sengoku Basara), released in 2005, have begun to count anniversaries.  Being born in 1981 makes me older than most of these storied franchises.  Counting from their original release dates in their respective regions, I predate Pokémon by 15 years; Soul Calibur (then Soul Edge) by 14 years; The King of Fighters and Warcraft by 13 years; Doom by 12 years; Kirby by 11 years; Sonic The Hedgehog, Fatal Fury, and Lemmings by 10 years; Fire Emblem and Wing Commander by 9 years; Sim City and Populous by 8 years; Pool of Radiance (the first licensed Dungeons & Dragons computer game) by 7 years; Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, and Mega Man by 6 years; Kid Icarus, Metroid, Castlevania, Dragon Warrior, and The Legend of Zelda by 5 years; Gradius and Super Mario by 4 years; Punch Out!! and Tetris by 3 years; Dragon's Lair and 信長の野望 (Nobunaga's Ambition) by 2 years; and BurgerTime by 1 year.  On the other side of the coin, I have a few elders: Pac-Man was born one year before me, and Space Invaders three years before me.  Even those two elder franchises are both still going strong, and I can but tip my hat to all of them they celebrate each 5-year milestone in their lives.

So, what of 1981?  There is one major franchise that saw its birth in that year: Donkey Kong.  The big ape, and, by extension, his yet-to-be-Super nemesis Mario, then named Jumpman (Nintendo counts Mario's anniversaries from 1985, when Super Mario Bros. was released, however), first hit arcades that year.  Another well-known release?  Frogger.  So, I share my birth year with a barrel-throwing simian, a freeway-crossing frog, and a carpenter-turned-plumber.  Not a bad year, really.

Thirty years later, I've played countless games and have read even more books about games. I've gone to concerts and events, sometimes rubbed elbows with some big names, and have even finally become a small part of the industry that I so love.

What will the future bring to Videoland?  Who knows?  I can say this much, though: as long as our princess is in another castle, as long as the soul still burns, as long as robots fight for everlasting peace, and as long as another quest will start from here, Videoland will always be an exciting place.

And I, for one, am happy to call it home.

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