I was a morning person when I was a young, young kid. I couldn’t have been older that five; I remember still living in Texas, which I moved away from when I was seven or eight. I had a Sega genesis back then. I used to wake up early, before my dad had to go to work. I would play Sonic the Hedgehog, and generally do pretty well, except for one or two that were too tricky for my tiny mind. I would try, get frustrated, and would hand the controller off to him. I would eat a bowl of cereal and watch in awe as he effortlessly glided through the spike traps and the bosses, and handed the controller back to me before heading off to work.
It’s what sports must be like for cool people. Where some people played catch or football with their old man, I played a Sega. Where some people got dunked on and outrun, I had my high scores unceremoniously destroyed.
There’s something fatalistic about it. I like video games because I liked them yesterday, and I liked them yesterday because I liked them the day before. I think that’s why most people like most of their hobbies; they can be traced back to something their dad got them started on.
I bring this up because yesterday I was introduced to the concept of speedruns. The games that took up entire seasons of my childhood, completed with mechanical precision by people who more or less do it for a living. It’s strange to see the most nostalgic parts of my life distilled like that. I feel a weird mixture of jealousy and pity, the same feeling I get when I watch “pro” video game competitions. The fact that you’re that good at this and the fact that I admire it are why we are always going to be on the bottom rung of the social totem pole.
If I say it judgmentally, it it mostly in judgment of myself. Well, that and me not being an idiot and knowing what society expects from a full-grown man. Pro-tip: A career in video games will not land you on the cover of Esquire. Or Forbes. Maybe Rolling Stone.
But that’s all right. It just means we were destined for what we got from the start, the second our collective dads popped in Sonic the Hedgehog.