The first of the franchise’s games in the Super Nintendo era, “Super Mario World”, had been Jamie’s first video game ever. He played that game so much that you could swear that the controller’s buttons were worn down a few millimeters. He’d played every stage about a hundred times – not because he couldn’t beat them, but because he was having so much fun that he never wanted to stop. He’d defeated Bowser and his kids so many times that he was confident, even now, that he could do it in his sleep.
Eventually he’d moved on to role-playing-games, like the Final Fantasy series, and those were fun but he’d never quite caught on to the kind of gameplay that required him to scroll through menus in the heat of battle. He wanted the action, the quick-thinking movements, the excitement of having to dodge attacks and initiate them simultaneously.
It took a few years, but eventually he found exactly what he was looking for: Halo. This was the game for him. It had space marines and aliens. It had little guns, big guns, and massive guns. It had bombs that you could stick to people. And Jamie didn’t have to just play the campaign missions…he could play in versus battles against his friends too! At least…until he got so good at the game that no one wanted to play with him anymore.
First-person-shooter games became his life. After demolishing the early Halo franchise he moved on and worked his way through the entire available roster. The Battlefield games, Counterstrike, all the Call of Duty options, anything with Tom Clancy’s name written on it. FarCry, Doom, Quake, and Borderlands. Gears of War, Crysis, Killzone, and the Clive Barker games. Jamie had played them all, and often with such fervor and frequency that he was at the top of every leaderboard, the most hated player on ever server.
Those were good times. And he’d thought that, surely, if he was this good at firing digital guns, real ones couldn’t possibly be that difficult, right?
Jamie quivered in a foxhole, clutching a spent magazine and the bloodied arm of his dead companion as shots and screams rang out all around him, and he thought of Super Mario.