Gaming Origins: A Boy & His RPG's
Podcasters United Editor-In-Chief James Crow shares his history of gaming, and what brought him to view RPG's so fondly.
Every gaming enthusiast can recall the exact moment they first felt the rush of excitement that comes with playing video games; be it saving the princess in Super Mario Bros., or finally beating their best friend in Mortal Kombat. For many of us, these experiences have shaped our lives and shaped who we are today. I'm here to tell you about my own origin story and how I fell in love with video games.
For me, as long as I can remember, gaming has been a part of my life inextricably woven into my very being. From the classic Nintendo to the modern PlayStation 5, video games have been a fundamental part of my identity.
Many moons ago, I was first exposed to the captivating world of video games on the NES with The Legend of Zelda, and my father was the one who ignited my passion for them. When I first grasped the controller and was able to play instead of just watching him, I was filled with newfound excitement. Although I was far from being any good at the game (it took me months to finally beat it!), when I achieved my first victory, I was hooked and never looked back.
I spent the next few years immersing myself in every game I could get my hands on. Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and many more were vanquished in my insatiable quest to enjoy more video games. While each of those games was a wonderful adventure, I found myself never quite satisfied no matter what game I was playing.
Around this time, my grandfather, who was a baker in his mid-fifties, began living with us. He loved nothing more than spending time with my baby brother and me, always bringing home donuts and other treats from the bakery. At this time I was entering a phase where I wanted to do my own thing and didn’t care for spending time with anyone (10-year-old me was a menace). This didn’t sit well with my grandfather, so he made it his mission to find some way to bring back the days of us spending quality time together.
My grandfather moved back to his home state after Christmas, but he left me with the best gift I could ever receive; a passion for story-driven JRPGs and the perfect memory of us playing Chrono Trigger side by side.
In his determined mission to reconnect with me, my grandfather set out on a quest to find the perfect video game. After asking his colleagues for their opinions, he was immediately drawn to the recommendation of Chrono Trigger, and without hesitation, he purchased a copy that very same day. Little did he know that this single act of kindness would lead to an unbreakable bond of friendship between his grandson and him, it would also cement my interest and passion for all things JRPG.
When he arrived home, he surprised me with the game and said, “I’m going to give this to you, but we have to play it together.”
At first, I refused, stubbornly believing that video games were my thing and not for someone as old as my grandfather. I was determined to wait until he left for work the next day to enjoy the game without him. But, when I saw him trying to figure out how to use the controller, my heart softened and I went over to him to tell him to stop. Instead, I found myself sitting next to him, demonstrating how to play the game.
We sat there for almost six hours that day, excitedly talking about what was happening in the game. I was hooked, I couldn’t get enough of the game and wanted to play all night, but I reluctantly agreed to resume the next day. My grandfather was having such a wonderful time that he took an entire week off to spend it with me, joking and laughing together as we enjoyed the game and the moment we shared.
After that exhilarating experience, no other game I had played previously, felt quite like Chrono Trigger. My grandfather spoke with his colleagues again and gathered information on as many titles as he could that were JRPGs like the one we had just experienced. He gave that information to my parents, and let’s just say, on my birthday and Christmas that year, I lived like a king with all the new games they had gotten for me. My grandfather moved back to his home state after Christmas, but he left me with the best gift I could ever receive; a passion for story-driven JRPGs and the perfect memory of us playing Chrono Trigger side by side.
Fast forward in my life to the year 2005. That was the year I was devastated to learn that my grandfather passed away. We traveled to Grand Forks, North Dakota to be there for the funeral ceremony, and the entire time I couldn’t think about what to say or how to truly react to him being gone. All I could think of was I had lost one of the most integral people in my life, who helped shape and mold me into the man I am today.
On the day of the ceremony, we were waiting to leave my family’s house when I saw my cousin’s copy of Chrono Trigger collecting dust amongst all his video games. It was at that moment that the memory of my first playthrough with my grandfather came rushing back to me. As I stood there lost in the flood of emotions that overcame me, I realized how I could always keep him close. I made a vow then and there to play Chrono Trigger once a year in honor of him while remembering those first steps I took into the JRPG genre with him.
As I finish writing this, my gaze shifts toward my collection of games, and my eyes lock onto my copy of Chrono Trigger. I can feel the nostalgia rising, and I can't help but smile as I remember all the wonderful memories I had playing this game. I think it is about time I go and explore the world of Chrono Trigger once again. I am eager to relive the classic adventure and honor my grandfather’s memory.
About the author:
James Crow is an avid enthusiast of all things gaming, especially RPGs. He is an aerial photographer and digital marketer in the Air Force. His ideal weekend is spent relaxing playing an RPG and recording the next episode of the Games with Jon & James podcast.