Just under two years later, it’s time for the Wii to launch in Australia. The Wii was my last real adventure. It was also a solo adventure. I had moved out from living with Ryan and was now living with my girlfriend in a place of our own. As always, I was very excited by the new console from Nintendo. This would mark the third home console by the big N that I would be buying with my own money on launch day.
I had a pre-order for the console at Toys R us, as they were offering a free game with the console, but I had Wii Play and The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess pre-ordered at EB. This was going to be tricky as I started work at 9:00am. EB opened at 7:30am for the launch and Toys R Us opened at 8:00. I figured I would have enough time to go to both places and be at work by 9:00. I still didn’t have my drivers licence… I was about fifth in line at EB. No chit-chat here. I got my games and left. I walked out of the shopping centre, crossed the road and walked to Toys R Us. It was just before 8:00 A line was starting to form and I was third. Luckily human decency prevailed and when we all got inside, the line remained in the same order it was when outside.
Third in line and it took 45 minutes for me to have my Wii and to be on my way. The two people in front were complaining bitterly to the guy at the counter because the free pre-order games would not be in until next week. They argued and said they should get Twilight Princess for free.
When I got out of there I had less than 15 minutes to walk to work, which, according to google, is about 17 minutes walk away. As I mentioned before I don’t really run. I’m not good at it and it doesn’t look pretty when I do. I walked as fast as I could, which was slower than usual, as I was inhibited by the heavy bags, containing the console, Wii remotes, nunchuks, games and the Wii backpack (given to me for free, in compensation for having to wait for the bonus game).
I don’t know how I did it, but just as I rocked up, the Boss was opening the doors to commence business for the day. He looked at me and asked why I was a few minutes late. I told him I was picking up my new Wii. He said “Oh, that’s fine. If you had of told me yesterday I would have let you start half an hour later…”
In 2007 I started a new job. I was working at GAME, a video games retailer. Seriously, it was a dream job. I mean, who wouldn’t wanna work in a games store? Your pick of whatever games you want! It’s true, I got to borrow games from work. I had inside knowledge of release dates and sometimes new titles. I ended up becoming a manager of my own store. I got to go away on conference with my co-workers and friends to play yet to be released and in-development games and hear publishers and designers talk about what was coming soon.
But working in a games store… It took away my adventures. The first thing to stop was my subscription to Hyper. I didn’t need it any more. I was already in the know. I guess the ‘up to the second’ news from the internet also contributed to this. Next was the games. I wasn’t buying them any more. Not unless it was a AAA title that I loved, like GTA IV or a new Mario game. I just rocked up to work and there it was. Console launches meant little to me now too. I saw the special edition DS Lites, DS XL, 3DS, PS3 slim, Xbox Slim… There was no excitement. Sure I bought the machines, but I also traded-in a few too. Something I don’t think I would have done otherwise, but something I do now all the time. I even traded my original launch day phat DS. Luckily I had the sense to never sell it to anyone, and bought it back nice and cheap.
Buying games, obtaining games, game launches… It all seemed trivial now.
As I sit here and think about the adventures I have missed because of it, I’m also starting to remember the adventures that replaced them. When I started at GAME as a full time employee, I was sent to South Australia with the Manager and Assistant manager for training. None of us had worked for a games store before. On the plane trip over I sat next to Dave, the manager. We clicked straight away. I made some kind of reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and he has told me, he knew from that moment, we were gonna get along famously. And we did. In fact most of the staff I worked with over the four and a half years became my friends.
Like minded people having a good time with video games in a way other than playing them. The adventures became talking about games and making jokes about them. Working out ways on how to advertise new games, like making hundreds of those origami murder seal things from Heavy Rain and hanging the from the ceiling. Decorating the store in camo netting and flying toy soldiers for the latest Call of Duty. Making funny posters for Mario or other upcoming games.
With online gaming becoming mainstream that’s also where the adventures began to appear. I would play the Latest Call of Duty on Xbox Live with my brother. Not because I wanted to play it, because you know and I know that I suck, but to be able to talk to Ryan and make jokes while playing the game. Organising with work friends to play Red Dead Redemption online to make our own posse. Not to play the multiplayer game modes, but to shoot each others horses, or to drive a flaming chariot into a gang hideout, going to cougar cabin and trying to all survive or pretending to be doing a western ‘Driving Miss Daisy” with someone in the horse drawn carriage, while someone else drives it off a cliff, all while chatting and having a good time. It’s become getting together with my brother to ‘enhance’ my Wii or my Xbox.
For me it’s no longer about the games. It’s not about playing them. And I don’t think it really ever was. It’s not the games that really make my adventures memorable. It’s the situation and who I was with or who I shared the story with. It’s not about playing Super Mario 3 with my brother when we were young. It was about sitting on the pink fold out sofa with them and having fun. It wasn’t about playing Yoshi’s Story. It was about having a place to go; the deli-llama’s place. It wasn’t about actually getting to play Smash Bros. It was Dad committing to try and get us this game to play and when failing, the amazing coincidence that it was waiting for us at home all along. It was about discussing what the lyrics to Tribute were. It was about bargaining and sharing the cost of something we both wanted. It was about the confused woman counting wet coins and the incompetent guy at Kmart.
It’s all about the people I was with and the people who made it memorable, whether it was family, friends or strangers. That is something working in a game store could never take away.
Now I know what really mattered the most to me about video games, and my adventures continue. Now I get to appreciate these adventures in two ways. No longer working in a games store means I can once again look forward to a console or game launch. I also get to be aware of the story behind getting a new game or console, you know, like being in line to get Ryan’s 3DS XL and me having to break up a fight between two guys in the EB store, over god only knows what with the chick screaming “YOU RUINED MY LIFE!”
Sure, a great game is memorable, but what happened on the way to buying that game is even better.