“A world of dreams and adventures with Pokemon awaits!”
When I was young, I didn’t know much about video games.
My earliest memories of video games were during summer camp at the age of six, in the summer of 1999. Most children were playing on their Game Boy Colors or Pockets, showing off their latest games and trying to best each other’s scores. I didn’t have a Game Boy, so I often asked if I could sit and watch while the others played. I never got too much satisfaction from it, because I would much rather have been playing than watching, but most of the kids wouldn’t let me play (something I didn’t understand when I was young but now completely understand once my younger brother became that age) but it most certainly intrigued me. I thought a lot about the video games that I watched and thought about how cool it would be to own one. So I decided I would ask my parents if I too could have a Game Boy. My parents had tried their very hardest to not allow me to play video games as much as possible. They said it would deviate me from my studies in school and from a proper social life as a kid, and while that was varying degrees of true and untrue throughout my life, I still couldn’t help thinking about them. Playing a game seemed so fun and interesting – not to mention that all the other kids had them. Well, one fateful day, I was stung by a bee. On the hand. I remember wailing at the top of my lungs when my hand swelled to the size of a blown-up rubber glove. One of the counselors took me to the front office where I would wait for my mom to come and get me, since it was definitely abnormal for a kid’s hand to swell up that much from just a little bee sting. I sat in the lobby next to a little boy who was also waiting to go home. The counselor placed a bag of ice on my hand and told me to keep it there until my mom came, and then left me in the room.
The boy next to me was playing a Game Boy.
He as playing a game I saw a lot among the other kids, characterized by its bright blue cartridge instead of the dull gray. Pokemon Blue. Of all the games to watch, that one and its partner Pokemon Red were by far my favorites. I loved animals growing up (I still do) and Pokemon’s characters captivated me in a way I’d never felt before. Pokemon like Pikachu and Vaporeon were so cute even though they were powerful in battle, and Pokemon like Mewtwo and Venusaur brought such a variety by being really cool and having really strong attacks.
I leaned over and watched him play for a few minutes until his mom showed up to pick him up. The boy carefully placed the Game Boy on the front office clerk’s desk and said good bye to us both. The Game Boy and game must have belonged to her. And, despite my throbbing, swollen hand, there was only one thought that resonated like a gong through my six-year-old mind.
Now’s my chance.
I asked quietly and politely if I could play the game until my mom came. The woman at the desk flashed me a small smile and nodded before handing me the huge brick of a system, still on and playing faint music. I grabbed it and returned to my seat, placing the ice that was supposed to reduce the swelling in my hand on the seat next to me.
The day was finally here. I was finally playing a Game Boy. And Pokemon Blue, no less. The system sat in my hands so perfectly, even though one was the size of a small melon at the time. It was square and heavy, like a big concrete brick, but the characters on the screen were all different shapes and sizes. I remember playing through a few battles and travelling around aimlessly before my mom showed up to get me, and I too quietly thanked the lady at the desk and put the game down in front of her. My hand didn’t even hurt anymore. I’d left the ice on the chair next to me. I remember my mom asking me if I felt okay. I couldn’t help but smile and say “I got to play a Game Boy!”
Playing Pokemon that day has most definitely impacted my life as a gamer today. My parents eventually allowed me to buy a Game Boy Color, and even now most of my gaming is handheld gaming, with
Pokemon games still in the majority of my gaming library. I find handheld games to be the most fun because not only are they the most cooperative, but to me, they’re also the most fun and usually the ones with the more interesting concepts. I can’t say where I would be without having been stung that day.
So thank you, bee. Thank you for stinging my six-year-old hand. Thank you for introducing me to video games.