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So, there I was. At work with a ton of free time on my hands. What to do, what to do? I got it. I'll check out Wiki. Ok. Here I am, homepage. Now, what do I look up? That's an easy one. What else is there in life but video games? The history of video games catches my eye. Reading through the in-depth article, I realize just how much video gaming has infiltrated my life.

I remember the first time I played a home system. I saw this big box in the basement of the house of a relative. The box said Pong, and from the illustrations on the outside, I could tell that it gets connected to the tv. I had no idea what it was at first, but then they hooked it up. The results weren't much to look at (it was Pong after all), but I was hooked. Every time I went back over to their house I asked to play the game. It's visuals were ugly and basic, but it was fun to play. To this day I have no idea what the system was, no way I could pick it out from a line-up. All I know is that the only thing it played was Pong, but that really didn't matter. All that mattered was that I was hooked, and would be for the next 27 or so years.

Reading through to the descriptions of the console generations, I saw the first true gaming system that I actually owned. I had, and still have, an Atari 2600. Unfortunately the one I still have is not the one I owned as a kid. I regret selling it now, but not at the time. That one I sold to get a Nintendo Entertainment System. Again, I still own a Nintendo, a couple of them actually. One of those is the original that I had as a teenager. Over the years I have collected several other systems. I've had at least one system from each generation (with the exception of the first), often times two. Until this generation that is. The reason for that? Pure economics. I have a family now and gaming is not at all a cheap lifestyle. I'm not complaining though. If it takes a little while longer for me to get a 360 or Wii, that's fine. I'm patient. Usually.

The thing that struck me with reading this is just how far gaming has come since the first time I played. It used to be a hobby for kids. Just going into any arcade during the 80's proved that point. Seeing an adult in there that wasn't an employee was just kinda strange. Most adults of the time just didn't get it. Of the ones that did go to the arcades, we always were on guard with those people. Were they some kind of weirdo, or did they have some other motive for going there? You would see plenty of teenagers, but that's about it. Eventually, I grew up (it may not show most of the time, but it's true), and so did my hobby. I started noticing a change with each new generation that came out. The games would start to be more maturely themed and violent. With the improving graphics we had more realistic situations to play through. No more pixels representing a person. With the advent of the sprite you could actually tell that that was a person you were shooting. Polygons advanced things further. Many genres could not exist without the advancing visuals. For example: Survival horror games were scarce at first, but have gradually gained popularity. Seeing a dog rendered with polygons jump through a window actually startled you. Not just because of the sudden movements on screen, but because you could see that it was a dog and that it wanted to eat you.

The maturity of themes and visuals were not the only things to change, stories became even more advanced and involving. Gone are the days of single paragraph explanations of a games back story. Today, games with hours of dialog are commonplace. Early Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy games proved that story can be as important as the visuals. A tradition that is continuing even today.

What will be the state of gaming tomorrow? Will we continue to see my generation evolve with gaming? Will the younger generations stick with it as long as I have? I am a lifelong gamer. I always have been a gamer, I always will be a gamer. That's why today, I call gaming a lifestyle, not a hobby. A person can give up a hobby. This is part of who I am now, and will be tomorrow.

As always, I look forward to comments about my article. I want to hear about your gaming history and experiences. Where do you see gaming going in the future? How long do you think you will stick with it? Are you a gamer for life, or are you a gamer for right now?
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