Last year, I shared how my teens were filled with online 3D multiplayer chatting games, but I have to share how that phase died and slowly converted to computer gaming. We’re talking about actual “I went to the store and bought some games to play on my shitty Windows XP” and “I used my first-ever debit card to order GTA as a 14-year-old on Amazon.” type of games.
If you haven’t read the first part yet, I recommend you go back and check it out.
AS you may or may not know already, my parents hated the concept of video games. They felt like it was a waste of a child’s time and unproductive time not well spent. But my 12-year-old self didn’t care too much of their feelings. If I was going to game, I was gonna do it. When I was younger, it was all about the consoles. During my upbringing, we saw how Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft blessed us with these new gaming consoles that changed the way we consumed video games from the Nintendo SP to Playstation 2. But my parents were very much well against it and buying one for my sisters and I was well out of the question, so I reverted to computer gaming instead.
The Sims franchise is a very special place in my heart. While Watching Cartoon Network as a kid, they always would broadcast those eye-catching Sims and Sims 2 commercials. Luckily, in the 5th grade, someone brought in their Nintendo SP and I played my first ever Sims game. It was so eye-catching to me. Most kids would bring their handheld games to school to mainly show off, but this one person let me borrow their SP for an hour just to get my hands wet. I can’t even remember what I did or the gameplay itself, but the trial sold me.
Now, how was I going to get my hands on this game?
When I began middle school, I noticed that I had to pay for my own lunch. My father would give me money every day so I can pay for it. Instead of eating lunch, I would skip lunch, save that money, and use it to buy the Sims games. There was a Best Buy near our middle school so I went by to check the price; a whopping $40. The first-ever Sims game I bought was the Sims 2. When I went back 2 weeks later after saving my lunch money to buy it, I realized that there’s a tax. Shit. I believe the tax was an additional $3, so I went home that same day and went through our house (from top to bottom to even the insides of the couch cushions) to find an additional $3 in coins. You should’ve seen the cashier’s face when I came back paying for the game all in $1 bills and tons of coins. He was super sus.
Ran home, installed it, and began playing the game and was hooked. First of all, it’s very customizable and there are a lot of options for what you can do with your family. Do you want to have 8 kids? Do you want to piss off your husband? Kill your Sim by removing the ladder in the pool? Have the teens to grow up without their parents? Build your dream home? Play an instrument for cash on the street? Drive to the lake? Visit the night club? You can do it all.
On top of that, there’s so much downloadable content (dlc) that many users have created to spice up your gaming experience. Once I realized that I can add even more things to the existing game, it was over. I spent hours upon hours looking for all kinds of new clothes, furniture, and hairstyles to enhance up my family’s appearance and home look. Honestly, I think I spent more time browsing the web to download content over playing the game.
And then there are the expansion packs which add more features for your family to do in the game. The first one I ever got was Bon Voyage. This one is simply for traveling. You want to go on a getaway? Take a bon voyage. I used it very little for my Sims were poor and I didn’t feel the need to travel with most of my families. I think out of all of the expansions I bought, University and Free Time were my favorites for they helped me add a routine into my Sims’ everyday lives.
I bought my first Sims 2 game in the 7th grade. By the end of 8th grade, I had all of the Sims 2 expansion packs. Most were bought by saving my lunch money. Over time, I realized that I can eat lunch regardless if I pay the fee or not (the can’t refuse to serve students lunch if they can’t afford it) so I would just pocket the money and slowly build up my collection. Only a few were bought from gifted money
and even stolen money.
Sims 3 came out not too long after I began playing Sims 2, but the big problem with playing this game was my father’s computers didn’t meet the minimum graphics card to run these games properly. Sims 2 did not require so much of a high graphics card, the computer just needed the space to handle it. Whereas Sims 3 was a different story. At the time, I would only run and play Sims 2 with 2-3 expansion packs. But with Sims 3, the game was legit unplayable on my father’s computers.
It wasn’t until I got my own laptop in my senior year of high school where I fully began playing Sims 3 at its full capacity. I was still buying the games then (funny enough) I just couldn’t play them till years later. Sims 3 to this day is still my favorite Sims game, for it’s a fully open-world game. With Sims 2, every new place you went there, there are loading screens, but Sims 3, it was fully open with tons of more options and lots more to see.
Sims 3 also had more customization in terms of Sims’ body shapes, clothing, hairstyles, and the building was even more well-defined. Their interactions with one another included more options and mods made for Sims 3 made gaming even more fun once.
By the time Sims 3 came around, EA (Electronic Arts) fully merged the game from Maxis and took over. With that, there was some touch lost from Sims 2, and with that came a very buggy game, which to this day has fried through that computer I first had and makes running the game even on a high-end gaming machine, hard to play.
EA is a big gaming company that owns and sells a vast amount of games so for them, it is all about the money and nothing more. They never took the time to understand and cater to the Sims gaming community and the issues the game had were astronomical. Thanks to the community, many 3rd party users coded a workaround for many of the bugs in which I have added to my game to continue playing.
Micro-transactions also became a thing during the running of Sims 3, so they spent so much time milking and throwing us all the additional content we can add in our game, but not fixing the main issues. Who said I wanted a lollipop furniture item and a sparkly chair? But because of that alone, I decided moving forward that I wasn’t going to buy or participate in playing Sims 4 along with any other future EA games. They ain’t getting my money.
I loved both Sims 2 and 3. If they could somehow mesh the funny interactions and options with Sims from 2 and the open world and looks of the Sims from Sims 3, that would be the best new Sims game.
Grand Theft Auto
GTA is another big one for me. I will never forget when I was about 9/10 years old and GTA San Andreas got so much news coverage for its violence and sexual features. My 9-year-old self was very intrigued and wanted to play it so badly. My mother had us stay with my aunt overnight one summer and she took us to her grandma’s birthday party. It was Hawaiian-themed and very well decked out. WE got luaus, drank drinks from pineapple, and there was so much good Nigerian food all in the mix.
We didn’t know anyone at the house party, but I idly followed some kids upstairs to find teenagers blasting GTA on their TV. I barged into the room curious about the noise and they didn’t want me there because I was too young. My sassy self stood up to them telling them I can handle it and me being 10 (lying about my age) is sufficient enough to watch them play. To their surprise, they let me stay and my eyes were glued to the TV as they did car chases, shot people, and played missions. I have never seen/played any game like GTA then so I was in awe. I wanted to play too, but they felt that would be a bit too much.
Because of that interaction, years later my 14-year-old self ordered a copy of GTA San Andreas on Amazon with my first-ever debit card. Who knew it would be so easy to evade buying a rated R game just with a click online back then?
Unlike Sims, this game is relatively old and doesn’t need a high-end performance graphics card (if any at all) to play.
I loved everything about this game. Walking on the street, people would look at CJ (the main character) and say things like “The fuck you looking at?” or if I had a gun out, pedestrians would immediately get scared and say “Oh shit, he has a gun” and would run screaming. This was all new to me. I would laugh so much at the comments. Driving from Los Santos to the countryside, picking up hookers, getting fat from Cluckin’ Bell, playing the hard-ass missions, the cinematic storytelling, and following that god damn train.
Don’t get me started with the music and the radio stations. Whoever is in charge of music for the GTA series needs to get an academy award or something. The selection process must be a tough one, but they demonstrate and exemplify clearly on how the story setting takes place through the music so well. San Andreas represents black people living in the hood in the 90s where hip-hop, drug dealing, and gangs were very prevalent and that’s exactly what they gave me. That West cost 90s music vibes of turn tabling, scratching, sampling sounds from kung fu movies, rhyming, we got it all. The music gave us just that. Also, gave us the amazing 80s funk, metal, country music, and hilarious radio show hosts talking about absolute bullshit.
GTA gave me a great foundation on open-world gaming and because of it, I, later on, grew to play Far Cry, Saints Row, Assassin’s Creed, and Skyrim.
This game has a very special place in my heart.
From San Andreas, I slowly played other GTA titles such as Vice City, IV, IV Stories, China Town Wars, and their most latest game, V. Out of all of them, San Andreas still is far by my favorite, but IV has an amazing, yet dark story falling just right under SA and is the first GTA that transforms to a more realistic 3D look/feel for open-world games and online multiplayer play. V refines the graphics to an entirely new level with its amazing details and advanced multiplayer play as well.
I cannot wait till they drop their next title.
Racing Games finishes off this list with me always love talking long drive in cars. From Mario Cart to GTA, the exhilarating feeling of driving in a car in a virtual world where I can escape and jam away to the radio and also drive at full speed, hitting that nitro and failing so badly at drifting, that first feeling of doing it was new yet a diverting escape from time.
My parents bought my sisters and I the one and only gaming system (which I don’t count to be a true gaming system), the Nintendo Wii where I had a fun time scaling all the race levels of Mario Kart from 50cc (slowest speed) to 150cc (fastest speed) and even the mirror levels. I would stay up all night attempting to unlock all the characters and nailing 60/60, 100% 3 stars in each competition. I think it took me 3-4 months to complete it all by myself.
Now when it came to Need for Speed, although I did not personally own any of their physical games, I did play their online version of it Need for Speed World
Every week, they had new races and competitions to be a part of and after placing in your races, you can win coins which in turn you use to buy cars and upgrade your car parts. People had some sick cars. They probably used real money to buy more in-game coins or grind racing all day. This was one of those games I would play here and there, I wasn’t so dedicated to it.
I developed myself to a relatively decent level. I would play on and off for I think about 3 years. The game got to the point where people were using mods where we would race the modder would finish the race one second later to increase their ranking faster and winning a lot of money. These types of modders filled most of the races and made the game itself impossible to play so I uninstalled it.
I still love racing games. I used to have a bunch on my phone at one point but now I just have two, Mario Kart (mobile game) and a paid game called Horizon Chase where you can race in different parts of the world with different climates and weather at play.
Now can someone find a way to ship my desktop to me so I can continue playing my video games?