When I think of GOAT Christmas gifts, the three M’s immediately come to mind: Mario, Mickey Mouse.
In the early 1990s, Santa Claus brought a Super Nintendo entertainment system up the chimney (or maybe a green chain pipe). The console bundle included the seminal classic Super mario world, and I also received (the very underrated) The magical quest with Mickey Mouse as a secondary gift from my parents.
I remember rushing downstairs to plug in the system in our basement to install the console on a TV so small Gen Z kids would think it was a funny prop. But for me, it was pure 16-bit low-definition gaming bliss. Turns out the SNES would be one of the biggest libraries in video game history, and it was a joy growing up crushing goombas with Mario, rock climbing with Mickey, beating soldiers. on foot in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Time Turtles, exploring the epic RPG worlds of the trigger of a stopwatch, Tied to the earth, Super Mario RPG, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, power on in Mega man x games, smash barrels in the Donkey Kong Country franchise, or even just squash the flies in the Mario painting mini games.
This cold December morning, this wonderful gift opened the world of video games to me.
Growing up, stereotypes about video games were often isolationist. The game was reserved for locked-in people who would not come out, a lonely aspect that slowed down social interaction and development. But I never found it to be, even back in the days when online multiplayer gaming was the norm.
Many precious memories revolve around social video games: NCAA Football games (name, picture, likeness) so we can spend even more hours building schools as digital powerhouses, wildly celebrating the IG-88’s defeat in Shadows of Empire with “Eve of Destruction” on the stereo after hours of failure in a friend’s room, a dorm Super Smash Brothers crash, etc.
Even last year there was a sense of community peace among some friends despite the anxious pandemic world swirling around us because we were able to escape to our digital islands in Animal crossing: new horizons. I also have to spend time hanging out in Animal crossing land with celebs like Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus, Alison Wonderland, Xavier Woods and T-Pain as part of a series of stories for Launcher. It has helped me stay sane in crazy times.
All of these things grew from the SNES seed that appeared on Christmas morning. It was the gift that keeps on giving (and playing). ??