Being born in the early 80’s I grew up with the early consoles which I dearly love to this day. The first computer in our household was a green-screened Amstrad CPC 464, which housed its games on cassettes rather than the cartridges synonymous with the NES and the early Sega systems. The games on this computer stay with me today and have influenced me greatly, Bubble Bobble and Gryzor (Contra as it’s known elsewhere) were two of my favourites.
Our first console was the Master System, followed by the Mega Drive and I was also lucky enough to get a Gameboy one Christmas. I literally played these guys to death! They also connected me to people who would become great friends, chatting about games, swapping games to play and even exchanging tips and cheats. It was a common ground from which great friendships were formed.
The PlayStation followed by the PlayStation 2 became my go-to machines while at University studying. I remember many a night, a group of friends and I taking turns completing missions on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – which remains one of my favourite games of all time. After the PlayStation 2, I started to lose touch with gaming. I owned a DS but only really played the Mario and Zelda games it was also the time when started to lose touch with the many great friends I had made along the way. Once or twice we met up for a gaming night with a few beers around one of our houses which I really enjoyed but I got in the bad habit of saying ‘no’ or ‘sorry I can’t’. I suppose this was a by-product of ‘growing up’, getting married, having kids and all that adult stuff that comes along. I failed to invest time in gaming and my friends. I don’t know why but I always feel guilty if I take time away from my family for myself.
I’ve been dealing with depression of varying degrees for a few years, and now I understand it a bit more (and accept it), looking back, if I’m honest, I’ve been dealing with it most of my life. I won’t go into why (we all have or problems/issues) but I’m ok. I have a wife who understands me and is just the best, I have two bright, beautiful and hilarious kids who are my world. Outside work colleagues, I don’t really interact with anyone. I’ve lost touch with literally all my friends and aside from my family, I do find life quite lonely and difficult at times.
Last year I started hearing about this new Nintendo console that was being released, it was a handheld console. Hmm, interesting… Once I get something in my head I can get quite obsessive so I searched around the internet quite a bit for any information I could and liked what I was seeing/hearing. I started listening to gaming podcasts (most notably The SwitchCast) which I loved as I could listen to them while on the go with my busy life. My passion for games started to spark again, so much so that in June my ever-intuitive wife and kids bought me a Nintendo Switch for Father’s Day!
Another reason I fell out of love with gaming was that I found it quite lonely and isolated from others, again I felt that guilt spending time away from my family, so I just wouldn’t bother. Instead, I’d stay downstairs with the wife etc. gaming is not really something we do together. The great thing about the Switch is that I can play my console, while my wife watches what she wants on TV snuggled up together (best of both worlds). My kids are even getting into games and it’s great to play multiplayer games together. My son especially loves the Switch, Zelda and Mario Odyssey in particular, and it’s been a great experience bonding over these games. He now loves anything gaming, especially gaming videos on YouTube. Dan TDM is his favourite, I actually worked with many years ago but that was before internet fame and fortune.
The Switch is starting to give me focus and passion outside my family unit which is great, not just with the games and system, but with the gaming community as a whole. Last November I started writing for a website (Nintendo Switch Network) doing game reviews. This opened up a whole new world for me, I’ve met some great guys from all over the world who I connect with regularly and love interacting with, I’ve now written for a couple of websites. I’m learning a lot and have found real focus in writing. I’m constantly thinking of ideas for articles or reaching out to fellow writers or even game developers.
It’s this writing which has also put me in regular contact with one of my oldest and greatest friends. We’ve even started this site together, and I’m loving it! I hope I can keep my focus and passion going and continue the progress I’m making as it really does help. I’m not saying my depression has gone away, it’s not, but I’m trying to focus on the positives and build relationships with people. The Nintendo Switch might just be a lifesaver…