I was just four years old when my dad came home one night with an Xbox and a copy of the game that got me to where I am today. Halo: Combat Evolved.
Prior to 2002, my only experiences of gaming were watching my dad play Gran Turismo and Driver on PlayStation. When I first got to play one myself in the form of Halo, my future was set. Initially upon playing the second mission of the campaign, I was lost in the vast open world that I had been dropped into with no idea of what to do. It didn’t last long however, as I ended up getting scared of the game’s most weak and cowardly enemies known as Grunts. Their screams of terror as they ran away from me only ended up making me scared and not want to play.
On the other side of Halo’s gameplay was multiplayer. This is where things truly started for me. I would always play games of Slayer on the map Blood Gulch with my dad, which remains to this day, my favourite map in a first-person shooter. I always used to beat my dad too which, looking back on it, can’t have been down to my own skill at the time. I was four, this was the first game I’d ever played, and the Xbox’s original controller was huge. There’s no way I could play fluidly using that controller with my tiny child hands. But I believed it, for some years too. I thought I was a master of Halo and would still beat my friends occasionally, so maybe I was pretty good.
Halo was the only game I played for a long time. I didn’t play any of the other games we had for Xbox because I either didn’t like them or didn’t want to learn how to play them. Halo was everything to me. A year or two later, after another (probably) boring day at school, my dad came home from work but had something for me which had only really happened once before. It wasn’t my birthday and it wasn’t Christmas. Apparently, I’d been doing well at school, and for that my dad had bought me a GameBoy Advance SP with a copy of Sonic Advance 3. This was my introduction to my second favourite game franchise of all time and one that has stuck with me throughout my life like Halo. Sonic the Hedgehog.
I remember literally playing my GameBoy everywhere in the house the day I got it. I even remember playing it in the garden for some reason. I took it everywhere with me after that and still have it to this day.
From here on out, I played a vast variety of games. Especially once I got my own consoles. I played current consoles and went back to old ones. Playing Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on a Sega Mega Drive when I was six is a highlight. Despite not being very good at it back then.
Still, my favourite two game franchises have never changed. Halo 3 is my favourite game of all time and I’m currently in the process of playing through every main Sonic game ever made so I can experience those I haven’t played. I play less games now than I did as a kid and stick to one main game (currently Rainbow Six Siege) and play other games as a break, and if they’re cheap, but gaming has been a part of my life for all but four years of it and will continue to be forever.