It Starts With You
December equals holidays. Holidays, if you’re sentimental like us, are a time for thinking about your friends and family and how much they mean to you. When games play an integral role in your existence, a lot of your favorite experiences with friends and family will have a videogame smack-dab in the middle of them.
On every Tuesday/Thursday for the next month, we’re going to talk about those games, how they brought us closer together, and how they helped us create memories. We want to share what games hold special places in our hearts, and not for their own merits but because of how they affected our relationships with the people around us. We’re calling the series Warm and Fuzzy, and we hope you like it.
It may sound cliché, but it really is funny how much of a difference a week can make. In the UK, the academic year starts in September. If you’re born in August, you’re typically the youngest in your year group. My birthday is August 27th, so had I been born a week later it’s quite likely I’d never have met Nick Finney.
See, Nick’s mother was one of my teachers when I was all of three years old. I couldn’t give you the specifics as to why or how it happened (because, y’know, I was three), but she decided me and Nick should hang out. So we did, and continued to do for what feels now like too, too many years. We went to school together. We learnt karate together (and ultimately quit at about the same time together). Guitar too. When it came time to go to secondary school, I applied to the same place as him and didn’t get in. I was gutted, but it ended up ok. And, of course, there were games.
My love of games developed separately from Nick’s. I was fortunate enough to have a PC when I was young – something not everyone could say in the early ’90s. More than that, I can realise now that my parents spoiled me more than they should’ve. All totalled, I had a Mega Drive – two, actually, since I spilled Ribena on the first one – an N64, a PSOne, a Dreamcast, an XBox and a Pocket Gameboy (which in my memory was purely for Pokemon).
Nick, on the other hand, had a brother with a seriously impressive PC setup (for the time, anyway) which he’d let us use. Nick himself eventually got a Playstation, a PS2, an XBox. Almost every weekend, he’d come round my house or vice versa, and we’d play something new. Or old actually, it didn’t really matter what. It only mattered that we did it, and that we did it until the wee hours of the morning. FFVII through to FFX-2. Soul Reaver. WCW/NWO Revenge. When the Halo games came out, they became our bread and butter. When Fable came out, I can distinctly recall us both buying it on release day, just to call each other up later in the night:
“Dude, my guy’s got horns!”
“Mine’s got flies all around him!”
It was sweet and naïve and childish. It was fun.
There was a period of years where we didn’t see each other then, thanks to university and life getting in the way – I was (and still am) in Cardiff, and he moved to Plymouth and back home again to Herts. We’d speak on occasion and everything was as it had always been. In that time, Nick met Gemma, who before too long became his girlfriend, who eventually became his fiancée. Earlier this year, Nick and Gemma were married. I was one of two Best Men and was expected to do things to help (N.B., I didn’t. Lack of money will result in that.) I went to see him in March, three months before the wedding itself, and it honestly was like things had never changed. He insisted on showing me his Noble Team and Ezio statues, his progress on Skyrim, and on getting a quick game of Halo: Anniversary in.
The wedding itself was a lovely, if incredibly wet, June day. Gemma walked down the aisle to a song from Glee, and they walked out together to a song from Star Wars. It was geeky in its own way, and you were able to recognise the people who got it just by the smirks on their faces. The night before though, Nick kept me and the other Best Man up until four A.M., just flickering the lights on repeatedly and hitting us with pillows. It was a weird thing to see this man who still knows how to have fun like a kid getting married but there it was.
I remember feeling proud, and being confused as to why.
I know that ultimately there’s not really anything special or unique about mine and Nick’s relationship. There’s surely hundreds of thousands of people out there with the same sort of experiences as mine. Still, they are the experiences that have helped define me today. I’d still be a gamer without Nick, but I can’t say for sure if I’d be playing the same things. Have the same desire to understand. Would I have discovered Final Fantasy as soon? Day of the Tentacle? Obviously, I can’t say for certain…but I have an inkling.
We just start playing Halo 4 on co-op last night. Nothing’s really changed. We both like to take turns between rushing in with shotguns blazing, or staying back and sniping easy targets. It’s been easy to fall back into. And great. I’ve gotten him a copy of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition for Xmas. I’m pretty sure Gemma will be sending me hate mail before too long. I think I’m ok with that.