Here at the Couch Bandits, we love games. Board games, card games, video games—you name it, we love it. But where exactly did this love of gaming come from? Check out our stories here:
I have memories of playing video games from a very young age. My parents owned a front-loading NES I remember playing Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt on, as well as renting games for it from the local rental store. Mario and Nintendo consoles were a staple of my household, with the SNES and original, monochrome GameBoy being the only consoles we did not own. In fact, my grandparents still had my father’s old ColecoVision console from when he was younger. I would play those old games with my grandfather from time to time when I visited and was in awe, despite the dated graphics.
However, my true love for video games didn’t grow until the early 2000’s, when we bought an N64 with Mario 64 and Donkey Kong 64. I remember my mom’s obsession with collecting every coin she saw in Mario, as well as the sense of achievement for how far I was able to progress in each title. My mother soon purchased Dr. Mario, a game she would use to put my brother and I in our place when we felt we were high and mighty. She would regularly go to a game with 99 viruses, the most you can start with, and progress through stage after stage with each one increasing the amount of viruses on screen.
In 4th grade, there were two games releasing around the same time that I was extremely excited for. Both have gone down in history for their reputation; one for sparking a powerhouse of a franchise and the other as one of the single worst games in history—and, arguably, the worst on N64. They were Super Smash Bros. and Superman 64. If I recall correctly, the one I received first was Superman. Luckily, I was young, only about 9, and not nearly as jaded and cynical as I have become. I would play mostly the tutorial stage that featured a young and empty “sandbox” where Superman had access to all of his powers that you would have to unlock in the main game. That game was too bizarre and strange for almost anyone to understand, and that was the only part that made you feel even remotely like Superman.
As time went on, I would begin buying my own consoles and games, and friends would come over and play. It was a social event, where we would all sit around together and play in a shared space, growing together and making valuable memories. N64 parties became GameCube and XBox parties until eventually the 360 began to signal the end of split-screen multiplayer. That never stopped us, though. It just meant we needed more TVs. We would have “Cave Nights,” times where there would be around 4 to 6 of us down in the basement, each on our own consoles playing together or on our own, but still in a social atmosphere. We’d bust balls and yell profanities, but that’s what makes couch multiplayer so fun.
Nowadays, I find myself gravitating toward board games, as they provide that structured, social environment easily, and many new board games feature novel mechanics and themes. Many of our high school friends who have moved apart still make a point to get together around the holidays for the infamous Game-A-Thon, a day-long marathon of pizza and games.
Ultimately, I remember games for the social interactions and stories and see myself continuing this hobby for years to come. Long live games.
I was very limited in terms of my access to video games as a kid. Much like Jake, my family stressed heavy emphasis on other activities, like board games and reading. Sometime in the late ’90s, Santa gifted my brothers and me an N64, and that—combined with a GameBoy Color I received around the same time—was my first experience with video games.
Even then, I didn’t play games often. My parents had strict rules that only allowed us to play video games for a predetermined amount of time per weekend. We’d only get a couple hours here and there, and since I was the youngest, my brothers used the console more than I did.
I really fell in love with gaming through watching my father play PC games. He mostly loved action-adventure and horror games. He played a lot of Silent Hill, Resident Evil, and more obscure titles, like Sea Dogs and Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi. He also loved RPGs, and the first games he allowed me to play on his computer were Dungeon Siege II, Warcraft III, and Baldur’s Gate II. Those three games, combined with a small selection of N64 games, would become the foundation for my gaming tastes. As I got older, my parents allowed me to play shooters, including what would become one of my all-time favorite video games: GoldenEye 007 for the N64. I was captivated by both the single player campaign, and the incredible multiplayer. I had never had so much fun playing a game with other people before as I did playing that specific title.
Another milestone moment in establishing my deep love for video games was when I finally got around to playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I was late to the party (playing it nearly 6 years after its release), but I only had Nintendo consoles growing up, and I only played what games my father would purchase for his PC, so I never had access to it prior. I’ll never forget the first time I loaded up that game and started exploring the world of Tamriel. I was totally enveloped in the world and the atmosphere. I could go on about that game all day. It acted as an escape for me for a long time, and still does in some ways. I would get home from school, and no matter how rough my day had been, that game could always turn it around for me. It just warmed my soul in a way no other game has been able to do since.
I find that the reasons I love video games are very similar to the reasons I fell in love with film. Video games, like movies, are transportive. They take the player to places they’ve never been, and show them things they’ve never seen. Movies do the same, and I think that’s at the core of my love for both. That ability to captivate, inspire, and instill you with such a sense of wonder is what keeps me coming back for more.
As my friendship with Jake and Nick has developed over the many years we’ve known each other, they have introduced me to games I otherwise never would’ve known about. Even today, they continue to expand my horizons, and it’s been such an interactive experience on every level; both literally and figuratively in the way my tastes have evolved over the years. We’ve all pushed each other to try games we typically wouldn’t. There was a time when getting Nick to play a horror game was like pulling teeth, but slowly, I’ve eased him into survival horror. And I owe a lot to Jake in terms of challenging my lazy assessments of great games and forcing me to take a closer look at titles I never would’ve given half a chance. That has helped me so much in terms of opening my eyes a little bit more each day. In short, I love games! Always will.
Growing up, I didn’t play a lot of video games. I spent my time reading, mostly, though my family loved playing board games, and I have a number of fond memories playing Pictionary and Clue with the whole family gathered around the table. But it wasn’t until around fourth grade that I really experienced a video game.
I remember it clearly: I went over to my best friend’s place and watched as his brother and a friend played a game called The World Is Not Enough on N64. My jaw hit the floor as my eyes darted across the screen, trying to keep up with all the action and dazzling color.
It seemed impossibly cool. What kid didn’t want to put themselves in the shoes of an ultra-smooth, top-secret agent for MI6? This dream was exactly what The World Is Not Enough allowed players to achieve—all from the comfort of a couch.
Shortly after this experience, I started seeing glimpses of other games. I distinctly remember visiting my cousin and watching as he played a character named Link, clad in green. This game seemed completely different than the James Bond title, and it captivated me in a new way. What other types of games were out there? What was I missing out on?
From there, I dug out an old Atari system my grandma kept in her basement—a relic from her kids’ past. I plugged in Centipede, Joust, Journey Escape, and Freeway. Even though I was a few decades behind, I started filling in the gaps of my video game knowledge, and I couldn’t get enough.
Next thing I knew, I found my dad’s old NES at his parent’s house. With a click of the remote, the old CRT zapped to life, and Super Mario Bros. played across the screen. My grandma and I switched off as Mario and Luigi, and I’d laugh everytime she fell down a crack.
My parents, who could see my interest in gaming growing into something big, decided it was time a console came into our home. My first system was an N64. My only two games to start were The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The World Is Not Enough. That library grew over time, adding classics like GoldenEye, Super Mario 64, Perfect Dark, and countless others.
My love of video games would only evolve from there, and my childhood was mostly filled with memories of my brother and I playing Gamecube in our “game room,” which didn’t have much aside from a couch, a TV, and plenty of video games to keep us busy for years. Since then, I’ve collected my own fair share of games and consoles, and it’s safe to say gaming is core to my being. It’s what I turn to despite how I’m feeling, whether I’m down, happy, or mad. It’s become a way to express and challenge myself, always pushing me to expand beyond my expectations and boundaries. Without gaming, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
This feeling is what inspired me to start the Couch Bandits with Nick and Connor. We all share this love of games, and we all want to give back to the creators of those games in our own unique way. We want to recreate that feeling of sitting back on the couch and playing some games with your best friends, because those are memories worth cherishing, and in today’s complex world, we need a break to appreciate the little things in life. Please join us in celebrating the world of gaming—we hope you enjoy your stay.
Why do you love games? Share your story in the comments.