Battery Backed Memories: Skull & Crossbones

This essay was originally published at Random Havok (now defunct) on August 4th, 2013, as the second in a series of retrospective pieces under the title Battery Backed Memories. I’ve republished it here with permission from Random Havok.

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I love arcades; though they’re certainly not what they used to be. There’s no more money to be made in creating new gaming experiences for arcade goers. The latest console generation made sure of that. When technology like the Kinect is cheap and compact enough to exist in everyone’s living room, there’s just no way to compete. Arcades these days are in the business of nostalgia. When we put money in a machine like Time Crisis, we’re paying to remember how it felt to experience the scale of that adventure for the first time. It was something we just couldn’t experience at home. When I was a kid, most video games were something that I couldn’t experience at home.

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Battery Backed Memories: Kingdom Hearts

This essay was originally published at Random Havok (now defunct) on July 28th, 2013, as the first in a series of retrospective pieces under the title Battery Backed Memories. I’ve republished it here with permission from Random Havok.

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There is a long list of video games that occupy special places in my life. They’re my milestones; markers along the road between my childhood and (so-called) adulthood. They share space with memories of personal triumphs and failures, family road trips, graduations, old friends. These are the types of memories we hold close and use as a yardstick against which to quantify life experience. When I reflect on the memory of playing a particular game, I’m also reflecting on what I was feeling or thinking at the time. I can become my 4-year-old self again, sitting in my cousin’s basement, booting up the Legend of Zelda NES cartridge (which I chose solely on the basis of the gold color) and hearing the theme music for the first time. I get to re-experience all the wonder and curiosity and uncertainty that came with youth, and then see the effect that those feelings had on me as I grew up. For me, playing video games has way more intrinsic value now than simply the fun or the challenge of gameplay. The games become part of a living scrapbook. When I want to take a trip back to another time in my life, all I have to do is put a disc in a drive, or a cartridge in a slot, or a token in a machine.

Continue reading “Battery Backed Memories: Kingdom Hearts”