Very recently my dad suffered from a minor heart attack. He's doing alright, despite being stuck in one of the most uncomfortable hospital beds in history, but after going to visit him I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk about the man who put me here; not just in life, but likely in this lifestyle as well.
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but possibly my oldest memory is of being a very small child playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project on the NES with my Dad. My memory is generally pretty terrible, but a lot of the things I do remember from my childhood can be related to gaming in some way. Sure, I have more "normal" memories of time spent with him, playing catch and what have you, but seeing as I write about games I'll try and keep it gaming related.
My Dad, as far as I can remember, is to thank for having that stuff around the house originally. My grandma (his mom) also had an interest that kind of stuff. I remember when we'd visit her house on occasion and I'd be more interested in going to her room to play The Legend of Zelda on that shiny gold cartridge than going outside to play with my brother and sister. Memories like that dot the barren landscape that makes up my childhood memories.
Experiences like that are what got me hooked on video games from an early age. If games hadn't always been there to keep my boredom away or to tell me stories or bring me together with people then I'd very likely be a completely different person today. That could be a good thing just as much as it could be a bad thing, but for better or worse this is who I am now. Over the years there were a handful of times when my Dad would sit to play something with me, usually with my brother or sister joining in. It wasn't really a regular occurrence, but it didn't need to be.
The game that I can remember him playing with me the most as a kid was Diddy Kong Racing on the N64. This is one of the few things I can think of in my life that has brought my brother, my sister, my dad, and I all together for an experience we all enjoyed. My Dad would always go for the little mouse character and the rest of us would just go for whoever looked good at the time. Racing each other in planes and karts, battling each other on versus stages, stealing each others' eggs in that friendship ruining mode; these are things that keep Diddy Kong Racing in a special place in my heart.
My parents ended up splitting up around the time I was in 6th grade or so, and I started seeing him less and less as time passed. He'd take us to school in the mornings for a while, then we'd just go see him every other weekend, then as we got older it just became a matter of seeing each other whenever I was willing to drive to see him, and now I don't even live in the same town as him. After that, the only time I can think of when I actually played anything with my Dad was when I got a Wii at release and took it over so we could all play Wii Sports. That may be a more cliché example of gaming with your family, but it's still a nice memory to have.
The gaming memories I have with my Dad are incredibly rare if you look at them as parts of my entire life, but the fact that they are some of the few things I can still remember at 25 speaks for itself I think. In a world that constantly overwhelms me at every turn, video games are what keep me sane. If I get stressed, depressed, or just bored (all things that happen far too often), I can always load up a game to take my mind off of it. In my mind I'll always consider that as thanks to my Dad.
He may not have always been around, but I never really made a whole lot of effort to be around him either, and this kind of stuff works both ways. These may be things that only I remember, and I'm most likely the only one for whom they're important, but there they are nonetheless. So thanks, Dad. And thank you for reading.