Editorial / Consoles I have known and loved

I’ll start this off by saying that I’ll just be talking about consoles here, not PC gaming. I’m not doing this because I think one is better than the other—I know that sort of claim gets thrown around by both camps and just ends in shin-kicking and eye-gouging. I just prefer consoles; I’ve been playing on them for most of my life.

Consoles are the vehicles for our gaming experience. Since childhood, we’ve been plugging in cartridges or discs, picking up controllers, and hunching in front of our TVs until our eyes dry out. Every few years, a new console would show up on the scene. It was bigger and better, or at least shinier. We would put it at the top of our Christmas lists, or pony up the cash. And on it goes.

The systems and games you grow up playing are steps on the path that your gaming life has taken. Some people swear by Nintendo consoles for life. Others pick and choose each new system based on which games look cooler at the time. And some people get one of everything that comes out. Not everyone is made of money, though, are they?

My consoles of choice have gone like this: SNES, Nintendo 64, Playstation 2, Xbox 360. Looking back, I wasn’t exactly a brand-loyal teenager. There have been some great rivalries between console developers, as well as between their fans. For the sake of nostalgia, here’s a quick rundown of some of the landmark console battles.

Sega’s Genesis was branded as a cool alternative to the friendly Super Nintendo. It had attitude. It had swagger. As the marketing campaign said, “Genesis does what Nintendon’t!” To this day, there are Sega kids, and there are Nintendo kids. There’s no love lost there.

Later, when the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation duked it out for 3D supremacy, the Nintendo 64 doubled up on both of them. It was an impressive step forward, even if the controller was completely bonkers.

In the modern era, the boundaries of high-definition graphics may have peaked with the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Games in this generation look about as good as they’re going to. We know changes are on the horizon, but there aren’t a ton of details. Nintendo will be releasing the Wii U later this year, while Sony and Microsoft seem to be content to ride their current consoles for a few more years yet.

Think about the games you’re currently playing, the system you’re using. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t feel like the 360 has been out for seven years. Could it really have been that long since I first played GTA IV and Gears of War II? Well, no, because I think I bought my 360 five years ago, not seven. But you know what I mean.

My point is, the consoles you’ve owned help define parts of your life. Maybe you played a lot of NES or Genesis during your awkward teens, when NBA Jam could give you a shot of confidence after making an idiot of yourself in high school gym class. Maybe you spent more time in college holding a PS2 controller than a textbook. Maybe you impressed your future husband with your bowling prowess in Wii Sports. Hopefully that isn’t all he likes about you, but it can’t hurt.

When you get right down to it, when you strip all of the imagination away, a gaming console is nothing more than a plastic box with a bunch of wires in it. Tech nerds—wonderfully brilliant tech nerds—have been using those wires for decades to create amazing video game experiences. They’re always pushing boundaries and testing new limits. So the next time you switch on your magical gaming box, think back on the great times you’ve had, and a future you can’t even imagine. Oh, and start saving up. You’re gonna want the next big thing, aren’t you?