Go to kindergarten. Find yourself a few friends. Go home and think about what fun things you can do together. Ask your mother, because she knows best. Gasp in wonderment as she opens a hitherto unseen cabinet and takes out a Family Computer. Ask her if she has any games. Nearly faint when she takes out Super Mario Bros. Play it.
Walk to school. Ask your friends if they want to play Super Mario Bros. Raise an eyebrow when they mention how Sega does what Nintendont. Ask about the fabled Sonic D. Hedgehog. Get confused when your friends start talking about robot nicks and animals and lots of golden rings. Get further confused when your friends talk about some guy named Alex Kidd, whom you haven’t met yet, but the school’s pretty big anyway. Sit by yourself at lunch. Go home and feel thoroughly left out. Play Super Mario Bros. to cheer you up. Smile at your mother.
Get past World 1-2 for the first time. Fall in a pit in World 1-3. Fall in a pit in World 1-3. Fall in a pit in World 1-3. Fall in a pit in World 1-3. Run out of lives. Blame your two-year-old brother. Get mad at him when he drools all over your controller. Try to hush your two-year-old brother when he cries. Feel really bad. Wipe the drool from your controller. Play Super Mario Bros. together, holding the controller over his hands. Fall in a pit in World 1-3. Throw your controller on the ground.
You’d cry, but society says that’s unmanly.
Ask your friends how they beat Super Mario Bros. They start talking about Sonic D. Hedgehog again. Ask tentatively about Sonic D. Hedgehog. Get laughed at. Look at the magazine so-and-so is reading about Sonic D. Hedgehog. Look at Sega Genesis screenshots and realize that your Family Computer is way behind the times. Go home and shake your head when your mother asks you if you want to play Super Mario Bros. together. (She hasn’t beaten World 1-3 either.) Ask to play Sega Genesis instead. Frown when your mother has no idea what that means. Wonder how she can be so ignorant of the coolest thing on the planet. Daydream about Sega Genesis instead of playing Super Mario Bros.
Ignore two-year-old brother when he points at Super Mario Bros.. Turn on television and watch Sonic the Hedgehog: The Animated Series. Realize with a start that the game stars not a guy named “Sonic D. Hedgehog” but rather an actual hedgehog. Get a lot less interested in Sonic the Hedgehog. Change the channel. Turn on your Famicom. Play Super Mario Bros..
Tell your friends that Super Mario Bros. is way better than some stupid hedgehog. Get told that you’re comparing a fat overalled plumber to a speedy sapphire hedgehog. Admit that this is a good point. Go home for Christmas break. Get a Super Nintendo for Christmas. Nearly faint, again.
Get taken to game rental store by mother. Continue nearly fainting every time you play The Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, or Aladdin. Play Earthbound at a friend’s house and fail to understand it. Play Super Star Wars and never get past the second level. Lose constantly to your friends at Mortal Kombat: the only game you can agree to play together. Get scared every time someone rips out somebody else’s spine. Go back to secretly playing The Lion King while telling your friends you’re playing Mortal Kombat instead. Accept defeat when they say it’s like you haven’t even been practicing.
Optional: begin yearning to go to Japan.
Fail to get a Nintendo 64 or a Sony Playstation when everyone else does. Get told by your parents that your family just can’t afford it right now. Wonder if this means you can never be cool again. Say this out loud. Get laughed at. Get asked by mother if you want to play Super Mario Bros. Ask her– very incredulously and with proper pubescent attitude– if she’s serious.
Forget about video games and go to school. Hide Aladdin every time somebody comes over. Ignore friends who are playing Final Fantasy VII in favor of friends who are playing football. Laugh at people who talk about Mario Tennis versus actual tennis. Laugh at your little brother, for whom your parents got a Nintendo 64 and Super Smash Bros. Secretly feel monstrously jealous.
Act like it doesn’t bother you when your brother unlocks Jigglypuff, Luigi, Captain Falcon, and that guy from that game you don’t understand. Act cool when your friends start coming over not to talk about fantasy football but to play Super Smash Bros. with your brother. Act nonchalant when your friends start asking you why you never told them you owned video game consoles. Make a mental note to get good enough at Super Smash Bros. to beat your little brother. Never beat your little brother. Play some more.
Get a GameCube, and, through the years of Halo and Kingdom Hearts, realize that this will be the ultimate test of whether you can stick by your video gaming habits. Get laughed at for your purple lunchbox console. Invite people over when they admit, yes, they have severe Super Smash Bros. Melee addictions. Beat them. Lose to your brother. Love Beyond Good & Evil, if not only because the leads are a pig, a soldier and an ambiguously Asian photojournalist. Play Metroid Prime and fail to understand it. Learn that all your friends really like Metroid Prime. Pretend as though it’s your favorite game of all time. Get very good at lying.
Maybe he just terrifies you.
Buy a Wii on launch. Get a DS not long after. Play Super Mario 64 DS and realize that you’re just bad at Mario games in general. Fail to find a nose that’s just right for your Mii. Make Wii Sports that fun thing you’ve been wanting to do with all your friends since kindergarten. Make bonds with people you would never have otherwise– including your ever-aloof grandfather. Beat your little brother at Wii Tennis. Get beaten by your grandmother at Wii Bowling.
Get lost in work and school. Sigh at how little time you get to play video games. Fall away from it all and feel a bit depressed about it. Scan your Facebook wall for status updates involving beating games you haven’t even heard of before. Resolve to change this. Save up money to buy a 3DS. Buy the limited-edition Zelda version. Regret spending half a month’s rent on it. Stop regretting it after you download Swapnote and feel like you’re in high school again, passing notes up and down rows, to and from people you’re happy to hear from after a long, long time.
On a whim, buy Super Mario Bros. on eShop. Play Super Mario Bros. Fall in a pit in World 1-3. Smile.
Masthead via Peter Kruger.