Photo by John Estanislau
“No Lina you can’t play! You don’t even know the controls, just go sit over there!” I seethed with rage as I quietly did what was told and sat back on the couch to watch my cousin play his N64. Little did he know, I had had experience with video games before. I dominated the lily pads in Frogger and destroyed aliens left and right with my math skillz in Math Blaster. Sure I didn’t have a Nintendo console, but I had my PC! My cousin had no faith in little 7-year-old Lina. That summer I spent my days watching my cousin play through all his new N64 games, wishing for just a couple minutes of play time.
FINALLY one day he let me take the second controller. He gave me no instructions and booted up a little game called GoldenEye 007. I stared at the screen determined as the game started… And died. He proceeded to murder me every 2 minutes as I fumbled with the controller trying to figure out how to aim and shoot. I learned a valuable lesson that day: learn fast, run quick, die hard. This wasn’t the nicest thing my cousin could have done to his younger cousin, but it did spark something in me: a desire to prove myself, and improve myself as a gamer.
The year of 1998 really changed things for me though. That year my two favorite games of all time came out: Half-Life and then Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. My dad is actually who got me into gaming. I remember him setting up the family computer and showing me all the different games I could play. He kept up on the latest PC games that would be released, so when Half-Life came out he got it right away. I was 8 at the time and Half-Life was rated M, so my mom had doubts about letting her little 3rd grader play a game where you blasted aliens in the face and witnessed headcrabs murdering scientists… Lucky for her, my dad and I found a little loop hole: HE would play the game, and I would sit by and watch! Genius.
Maybe that’s where my love of watching let’s plays came from? Spending those nights watching my dad beat level after level of Half-Life. Towards the end of the game, my parents got a little more lenient about me playing the it. My dad would let me run around levels (after he saved his game of course) and crowbar the HECK out of alien grunts. I died a lot and didn’t get too far, but it was fun! Finally he got to the last area of Half-Life, the alien world of Xen, and faced off against Nihilanth, the final boss… and died. Frustrated, my dad took a break and hopped on the phone for a quick call. He let me take control of Mr. Freeman and just shoot around while he was busy. Now, there is a special strategy to defeating this alien boss which involves jumping on trampoline-like pods and taking out his orb shields so that his defenses would lower and you could rocket his brain to smithereens, but I couldn’t be bothered with that. My strategy? Aim at his fat head and shoot until I went through the ammo of every single one of my guns…
AND IT WORKED!
The alien exploded and the world disappeared around me in a flash of light until I was greeted by the infamous G-Man to congratulate me on beating the game. My dad was shocked, I was ABSOLUTELY SCREAMING! I DID IT! My poor dad had to immediately reload his last save so he could also have the honor of beating the alien.
This was the first real boss I had ever defeated, and from that moment on I was completely hooked on video games. ESPECIALLY first-person shooters. I played and loved games before then, but I think that rush of taking down a giant alien beast and seeing the credits roll really solidified that for me. Nineteen years later and I’m still obsessed, I keep up on the latest games so I can recapture that RUSH I got all those years ago. Beating that Half-Life boss gave me a newfound confidence, and I was ready to take on any game. So that next summer when my cousin showed me his brand new Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time game, I confidently took the controller from his hand… And died.