Technology hasn’t always been my enemy. There was a time, in fact, when we were very close friends. Although this romance only flourished intermittently, it had its fair share of memorable moments.
I am an inveterate night owl and this unsavoury tendency to stay awake late can perhaps be directly attributed to my early affection for technology.
I can recall two occasions in my life during which an onset of hyperventilation became so intense that I damn near passed out. The first time was when I got a toy fire truck for Christmas. The second time was when I got a Game Boy for (again) Christmas. The latter event was also my first experience with a vaguely hi-tech device.
To this day, I still blame my mild case of obsessive-compulsiveness on the endless hours I spent playing Tetris. My old football manager used to say that smoking his first cigarette was the biggest regret of his life. In a way, I have similar feelings towards this odd, brilliant, superfluously silly anomaly in which an array of strange-looking blocks descended towards the bottom of the screen, as the game-player haplessly tried to fit them into tiny spaces amid the increasingly frantic levels of speed at which the process unfolded.
In short, Tetris was surely a concept inspired by someone with far too much time (and drugs) on their hands. And more importantly, it was the start of a glorious but sporadic love affair.
The following Christmas, I was the envy of my male classmates (all four of them), as I acquired the much-coveted Super Nintendo. On this occasion, I refrained from hyperventilating so profusely.
Nonetheless, from what I recall, my retrieval of the elusive Nintendo ma-jig coincided with a Coke-fuelled period of my life in which I basically spent the entire time laughing and screaming with excitement amidst the ever-so-slightly crazy, ever-so-slightly elegant Super Mario Brothers soundtrack.
Some day, I will write a novel about the existentialism of Koopa Troopers based on these latent lingering childhood dreams/nightmares. And don’t get me started on the ineffably exquisite beauty of Princess Peach, or the sordid machinations regularly employed by the dastardly Bowser. I even caused my mother great anxiety by constantly speaking of my fondness for mushrooms.
However, I gradually grew bored with these magic mushrooms and games in general. There was nothing resplendent or addictive enough to fill the void in my life left by this flailing compulsion. I tried, Lord how I tried. But replacing Super Mario with Star Fox was like compensating for a lack of alcohol with copious caffeine – it just wasn’t quite the same.
In addition, I also had acquiesced to attempt an endeavour far more arduous than completing ‘Chocolate Land’ (the Mario game’s most taxing level). Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I was cheating on Super Mario with Tottenham Hotspur. This respective obsession has been a consistently harrowing, sporadically rewarding experience. It is one which I have persisted with to this day, despite the likes of Justin Edinburgh being the primary cause of my latter-day nervous disposition.
Supporting the perpetually useless Spurs was a full-time obsession which I slowly allowed to become a part-time hobby in order to remain sane. The starkest example of the perils of this tribulation occurred when Tottenham captain and all-round legend Sol Campbell disgracefully defected to arch-rivals Arsenal. Thus began my brief flirtation with atheism.
Having finally assuaged my seemingly unshakeable addiction to supporting Spurs, I returned to the familiar comforts of gaming. I acquainted myself with the delights of the Nintendo 64, or the Nintendo “sixty-quadra” as the Spanish student spending the summer in my house referred to it (a description which I found hilarious for some reason – I was a weird child).
Undoubtedly, this period of my life constituted the peak of my gaming prowess. The contention can be proven by the simple fact that it was the only time when I made conscious and occasionally successful attempts at actually completing games. There was nothing like the allure of securing all 120 stars and being granted access to Yoshi at last, or finally killing that bastard Ganondorf and escaping into the sunrise with Zelda via Epona.
As adolescence approached and various bodily mechanisms altered accordingly, so did my gaming proclivities. Essentially, it was out with the trivial, childish preoccupations of Super Mario and in with the worldly cynicism of James Bond and specifically, Goldeneye.
Forgetting the revolutionary multi-player settings that were the toast of a dozen Coke-fuelled parties (I just couldn’t resist using that joke twice) and in which my even dorkier friends continually beat me, the single player mode was highly underrated and equally compelling in its own right.
Finally completing the level known aptly as ‘Complex’ seemed like the greatest moment in my life at that point (I subsequently discovered girls and such). Moreover, discovering 008 was actually Trevelyan at ‘Statue’ was a moment which was executed so perfectly by the game’s makers that it sent shivers down my spine and remains as one of my greatest gaming memories.
Ditto Final Fantasy VII – the three disc extravaganza and gaming equivalent of Ulysses – and the wonderfully novelistic Final Fantasy series in general (I’m pretty sure I’ve attended plays with less dialogue than Final Fantasy IX). Also, Aeris’ song = Greatest. Game-related composition. Ever.
So what quashed my gaming infatuation? Perhaps it was the realisation that all those hours playing Championship Manager didn’t exactly aid my academic progress. Maybe it was the numerous films based on games which offensively assumed that the audience was dominated by brainless two-year-olds. Or it could’ve just been as a result of the change which growing older inevitably brings.
Alas I am now rather technologically deficient. Despite my internet addiction, I am invariably inept when it comes to using Macs, I barely know what an Ipad is and all these new-fangled mobile phones get more bloody confusing by the day. Moreover, I throw my proverbial hissy-fit on about a monthly basis, in conjunction with my beaten-down laptop refusing to work for a reason that is, of course, beyond me.
I guess technology and me can no longer co-exist in harmony. Oh well, we’ll always have Super Mario.
Finally, I have three songs/music videos as a reward for finishing this blog.
Elvis Costello’s ‘The Man Out Of Time’ perfectly sums up my predicament:
The excellent new unofficial video for one of the songs of the year, LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Home’, is also vaguely technology-related:
And finally, to celebrate the upcoming release of Belle & Sebastian’s new album, I have embedded their best song (in my humble opinion) below:
Blog Post Over.