Meet the Hounds: HeartBreak Ridge

heartbreakghLet’s get this out of the way right off the bat. I’m old. I’m ancient. At least in the world of video games, and video-game journalism, I’m already well advanced in years compared to the masses of pre-teen, teen, and young adult gamers and a fair number of the people who make their living writing about one of my favorite hobbies.

How old? Well, my first console was an Atari 2600, and I thought Adventure was the height of gameplay. “Hey! Wow! I’m moving the dot!” On the other hand, this means I fully appreciate the miracle of now having Adventure on a device smaller than my wallet. Yay, iPod Touch!

However, I didn’t continue on the gaming path beyond the 2600 for some time because my allowance was already earmarked to fund my obsession with what we now call pen-and-paper RPGs. The original D&D, Traveller, Car Wars, Top Secret and more (with some war games thrown in) kept me and my money occupied. When I headed off to college, my father wisely got me a laptop computer. Well, it was as close to a laptop as you could get at the time — only it was the size and weight of a large suitcase and had a lovely green screen and 360k floppy disc drives! But I did have to use an add-on board to expand the 128k onboard RAM to an amazing 640k!

My lovely suitcase led me back into the early days of PC gaming, where I loved adventure games (I want more Police Quest! Oh, and a good Leisure Suit Larry) and ran across a little shareware game called Doom. I am proud to say I paid the bucks and registered my copy.

Since I had lured myself into PC gaming, I kept in that sphere but really only dabbled in games here and there. It did lay the groundwork for my current gaming interests, thanks to the original Bard’s Tale (graph paper says, “Hi!”), a neat RPG called Wasteland, and then the Baldur’s Gate (and Icewind Dale) series, which just blew me away with their visual appeal, depth, and size. Truth be told, I might have stuck with occasional PC gaming until I finally sprung for a 50-inch TV and started thinking about how cool it would be to play games on a big screen TV & 5.1 speaker setup.

I poked around, and found that this thing called an Xbox had component and 5.1 output, and it seemed to have a bit of a graphics edge on this thing called the PS2, so I got one and a game a friend recommended. That was Halo CE, and that’s when I went over to the dark side and fully embraced my destiny as a console gamer. I might have stayed there, but The Old Republic is calling my name, and I already have an M11x gaming netbook, so I have some hard choices in my future about allocating my gaming time!

So, I am well and truly hooked on console gaming, which got cemented when I got a launch 360 and found out about this thing called Xbox Live. (Yes, my launch box RROD’d. I’m on my third, but Jasper so far is solid, fingers crossed!) I feel connected to other people and their gaming experiences, even when, as I often am, I’m playing solo games apart from them. I like that feeling such that when Live is down, or my internet is freaky, that I don’t generally play a game until the problem is fixed.

Because of Live, and my shameful addiction to achievements, I am definitely oriented towards 360 gaming, but I’m not an exclusive fanboy. Though I played mostly on my original Xbox, my weak will and lust for things Grand Theft Auto forced me to get a PS2, and eventually I got a PS3 so that I could have an awesome Blu-ray player that also played games I couldn’t get on my 360.

Because my console education went from the Atari 2600 to the Xbox and PS2, I missed the whole Nintendo “thing.” I’ve not gotten a Wii because I never got addicted to any of their franchises, though I can completely understand when people freak out about the new iterations during Nintendo E3 presentations. Also — let’s be honest here — I like the casual comfort of gaming from my couch in front of my HDTV and speaker setup, and if I wanted to burn calories by gaming (yes, I’m looking at you, too, Kinect and Move), I wouldn’t be a couch potato, now would I? Much like 3D gaming, at this point with motion controllers, I’m intrigued at the potential, but not at the actuality right now.

I have love in my heart for all gaming. I completely understand why people have such passion for games and genres that don’t scratch my itch — fighting games, Japanese RPGs, the Nintendo franchises, sports games, World of Warcraft, and more. That’s okay, because I’m too busy being obsessed about getting achievements and wallowing in huge, detailed RPGs (like Fallout 3, the soon to be Mass Effect trilogy, and the Dragon Age series), at any given time at least one shooter, and a smattering of other games. However, 2011 may be a landmark year in my gaming life, because I just might sign on to my very first (and possibly only) MMO: Star Wars: The Old Republic. Knights of the Old Republic was possibly my favorite game of all time, and if anyone can get me to sign over my life to an MMO, it’s going to be Bioware.

Anyway, that’s enough about me. It’s time to get to work, and I look forward to sharing my passion for gaming with you all!

GamerTag: HeartbreakRidge
PSN: CoogansBluff
Twitter: HeartbreakRidge