“There was a point in my life where a relationship caused me to leave games behind entirely.”

...photo by Dennis Powers...

…photo by Dennis Powers...

QUESTION: Is your significant other a gamer too?

Absolutely, she is, in that video games are a part of her life. It is something that I relish more than just about anything else about her. Why? Because she understands my love, she understands a part of me that so very few others have in my life in general – a part that nearly none of my past partners have. It was something I didn’t actually realize I loved about her until this very question. I was, of course, attracted to it subconsciously. I just never thought about it. In addition, it made me realize that there was a point in my life where a relationship, and namely my then-partner’s views on video games, caused me to leave games behind entirely. I am happy to say neither the relationship nor my forsaking of video games lasted a full year.


…the lovely Kyle…

With my lovely Kyle it was something we had in common: the fond NES and SNES days early in both our lives. We would talk about how neither of our families could afford consoles early in the console’s launch windows, and instead rented or got them much later. It brought us together. We spent quite a few dates at arcades playing Street Fighter, or pinball (she kills me every time, it isn’t even remotely fair), or talking about old games we loved. Once we shared the same roof we actually played less together as our tastes are different. She is all about the puzzle games and pinball. There have been times though, especially early in the Wii’s life. She will still happily tell you how bad I am at Sonic games “Michael can’t even run upside down!!”… or that she can beat the hell out of me at Boomblox. She has no patience or interest in shooters, or sports games, or more realistic 3D games in general. So, I learned early on to recruit our daughter as my sidekick in Portal 2 or Ibb & Obb instead. While she may not play split-screen Call of Duty with me (opting instead to point out HOW MANY TIMES DO THEY NEED TO SAY “UAV ONLINE”?!?!) what she does and always has done is support me (and our daughter) in our love of games, as she shares that love as well. Would I love it if she played more of the games I love alongside me? I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t hate it. I love that she has her tastes and I have mine. I love that I will never beat her at pinball or Tetris, and that if I somehow ever convinced her to play FIFA for just 5 minutes it would end in tears most likely. One of ours.




Michael Beach by day is a salaryman and photographer in the Pacific Northwest… who happens to wish that he got paid for the mess of damn video games he plays.



Love games? Love talking about them? Tell me your story!

Cautionary Tale: E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial

Storyteller Matt Holohan shares a cautionary tale of video games adapted from films…



Holohan prior to the purchase of E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial.


My first video game console was the Atari 2600, which I bought used from a friend when he got an NES for his birthday. The importance of the Atari 2600 in the history of gaming cannot be overstated. It was the hardware equivalent of Super Mario Bros.

But this isn’t a story about how great the 2600 was. This is a story about the worst video game ever made, for any console. A game that I bought at the tender age of ten, with a dragon’s hoard of saved allowance and lunch money. This is a story about E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.


To say that E.T. is a bad video game is an affront to the word “bad.” And the word “game” for that matter. The fact is that E.T. is barely a game at all. There are enemies (which can be disabled by difficulty settings), but all you can do is run away from them. There is, nominally, a plot, but the only way to play the game is by randomly falling into pits. It’s like Minesweeper without the mines. There is no combat. There is no strategy. There is no beginning and no end. There is only a middle. An endless middle.


A pit.


At the time I was naive enough to be enthralled with the game, at least for a time. I was young enough to think that playing video games AT MY HOUSE was an amazing privilege, regardless of the quality of the game. And, of course, like all children of the 80s, I thought E.T. was great. I played the game for hours, convincing myself that I was having fun, that if I varied the mundane gameplay thusly and suchly I could make it interesting.

But eventually even I realized what a dud the game was. And when I had other, more fun (meaning more-than-zero fun, or even exactly-zero fun, as opposed to the negative fun of E.T.) games to play like Missile Command, Space Invaders, and the graphically atrocious yet serviceable ports of Kung Fu and Jungle Hunt, my copy of E.T. eventually found its place under a permanent layer of dust on my shelf, much as Atari’s legendary extra copies of the game became buried in landfills.

The lessons of E.T. were stark and enduring:

1. There are good video games and bad video games. This may seem elementary but it’s not necessarily obvious to a child, or at least it wasn’t in the salad days of gaming before kids started playing video games before potty training (as my kids have).

2. A video game adapted from a popular entertainment property is not necessarily good and, in fact, many game designers of the 80s and 90s were notorious for cutting corners on adaptations because the underlying property was a sales booster regardless of the quality of the game.

3. Spend your allowance wisely.

Matt Holohan is an attorney living in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in intellectual property and is a fan of retro gaming.

Love games? Love talking about them? Tell me your story!

“I Can Beat My Dad at This”

Welcome to the very first post in the Gamer Stories series! Each post in this series will feature a story, anecdote, tale, yarn, etc., from a gamer about his or her experiences with games. If you’d like to tell your story, please get in touch.


Super Mario Bros. was special for so many reasons. It was the first video game I owned, the first I beat, and it came on the same cartridge as the premier shooting sim of its day: Duck Hunt. But, the real reason it sticks out for me is that it was the first time I can remember thinking, “I can beat my dad at this.” Which was, just… huge. Obviously, my sofa cushion forts had been better and more livable than his for years, but Super Mario Bros. was something we both played, and that I won.

Brendan Hurt
San Francisco, CA:

Hi, my name is Brendan and I’m a gamer. They say admitting it is the hardest step.

My New Project: Gamer Stories


I’m launching a new personal project! It’s a sort of anthology of gamer stories amassed through interviews with gamers inside the industry and out. I’d like to explore how video games and gamer culture have shaped individual lives, for better or worse.

If you’re a gamer and have a story to tell, I would love to interview you!  We can chat via email, IM, Skype or even in person – whatever works for you. Please feel free to get in touch via this handy little contact form:

Follow the progress of this little project here on my blog or on my official Facebook page.


Dare to Dream


One day I will start my own video games company and it will be built around three core beliefs:

1) Games are an artistic medium.

2) Games are for everyone.

3) Women are people.

Oh, and probably, like, “boooobs,” or something.

Nearly 40 Years Old and Not a Day Past 12


Whenever Ben and I get to name a religion in Civilization 5 (we play together on the TV via Steam Big Picture – LIFE CHANGER), we always name it “Penelope’s Butt.”

And every time we get a message that says something like “Geneva wants Penelope’s Butt,” we laugh out loud.

We are grown-ups.

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