In 1985, in a suburb of Vancouver, Washington, in the back corner of a glowing arcade, you’d find him. Among the pizza-scented, germ-infested establishment, a bushy-haired, skinny boy with glasses larger than his face approached the “Galaga” arcade console, with one quarter. With that quarter, Robert Hailey would play for a solid hour or two — gaining extra lives faster than he would lose them. That’s right — my young father devoted his hormone-filled beginnings to games, games and more games.
As he grew up and had children of his own, Robert Hailey would find time to sit and play Nintendo 64 with his little ones. “Mario Kart 64,” “Super Smash Bros.” and “Diddy Kong Racing” were just a few of his favorites.
When November 2002 came about, a new way to play video games had been created. Microsoft had launched “Xbox Live” for the Original Xbox console. They had done away with screen-sharing and moved to allow friends to link up over the Internet and play in the same game as their friends from miles away. Some who had only played “local multiplayer” games were skeptical, and as local multiplayer games began to disappear, people began to revert to playing old consoles just for the sake of nostalgia.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love retro consoles and to this day I still collect them. But as silly as it sounds, “Xbox Live” has been a gateway to more adventures with my family back home. My dad and I used to always play “Halo: Reach” for the Xbox 360 together all the way up until I graduated high school. As I transitioned into college, my Xbox 360 came with me.
Although I am thousands of miles away, I have the ability to link up with my dad and my brother all the way from Arkansas. Because of this technology, we get to continue to make memories through conquering alien races and tearing through zombie hordes all while getting lectured about why my grades are slipping. We get to team up whenever we want, as if I had never left. By putting on a pair of headphones, I am transported back to Portland, Oregon. It is as if I had never left, and that is something that I’m so thankful for.
I have to believe that this was what the creators of “Xbox Live” had hoped for. Not to help teenagers get mad at each other over the microphone and not to provide and outlet for cyber-bullying, but instead to give the opportunity to bring friends and family closer to one another. Although I thoroughly enjoy playing miles away from my family, I am excited this holiday season to make memories in the same room. No matter what your family holiday traditions are, take them all in. For some, being together in the same place all at once is a luxury at this point in life. Eat way too much food, laugh until your sides hurt and make memories that will cling in your mind, no matter how far away you may be.