Monday, September 15, 2014

Retro Gaming Expo, Las Vegas

If only I brought more money for merch.
This past weekend I attended the Retro Gaming Expo at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. It was the
first gaming expo I had ever been to and I certainly hope it won't be the last. I saw the fliers around campus and immediately gathered some sorority sisters that I then forced to go with me, and even though my poor friends would have rather had been anywhere else, I had a blast.
Couldn't find Sonic 2, so Sonic 3 will have to do.

It was a small convention composed of small booths full of handmade merchandise, old school gaming consoles, and retro games for nearly every console ever made. The most popular were the Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis. I could have added several games to my old collection of only Sonic 2 if I knew where my old Sega Genesis was. Merchandise ranged anywhere from the hand beaded characters you see above (a hand beaded Pyramid Head that I unfortunately didn't get a picture of was the highlight,) to fan art posters, to Mario hats, and a necessity at every expo; Link's shield and sword.

Being the stereotypical broke college student, I only bought one thing at the expo...buttons...
And as pathetic as it may sound I tried to pick them so they would have sentimental value. Not only are they my first pieces of merchandise from my first convention, they all have meaning in my gaming heart. During my long Nintendo DS gaming life an embarrassingly long amount of time was spent in the world of Animal Crossing. I explored every inch of my little town, visited my friends towns who also had the game, tried to keep every animal neighbor in my town from moving, and tirelessly tried to work off the never ending debt to the bastard Tom Nook...what a dick that guy was...Anyways, when I saw the Animal Crossing character I just had to pick it. I picked Princess Peach specifically on her Mario Kart because that was another game I spent countless hours on and she was always my character of choice. The Pac-Man ghost, well who hasn't played Pac-Man. And finally the I love my Playstation 3 button because I do. It was my very first console where I played a game to completion the very first time and one day it will be a showcase at some Retro Gaming Expo and I will be telling kids my nostalgic memories of good ol' 2000's.

By far my favorite part of the expo was the game room. They had all kinds games in all kinds of consoles hooked to every kind of TV imaginable. On the outer walls there were arcade games and pinball machines ranging from South Park to even a pinball machine based on the movie "Twister." The popular games in the middle of the room were one of the many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games, the original Donkey Kong, and Mario Kart 64. Considering the fact that Mario Kart had so many people gathered around in the hopes to play that they decided to create a tournament, I gave up and sadly walked away and then stumbled on Mortal Kombat II. I immediately grabbed the controller and threw the other into the hands of my friend who has almost zero gaming experience. I chose Scorpion and tried my best to coach my friend through it but then I realized my only coaching instructions were "just hit the buttons...button mash." It was a disaster of epic proportions as our characters swung and kicked away at mostly air, only sometimes causing damage to the other player. But I didn't care, it was the first time I had played a Mortal Kombat game in years and I had a blast, no matter how terrible I was.

All in all I had an excellent time and I will certainly be on the lookout for more gaming expos to hit the Las Vegas area. And one day, maybe very soon I will save up the money to travel to Pax Prime up in Seattle, or maybe I will just go for the big guns and hit up San Diego Comic-Con or go for the ultimate dream of going to E3. One day...I'm determined.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Love For Video Games: A Retrospective

Hello blogging world! My name is Ashtyn, I'm a junior at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, (UNLV) a member of the sorority Alpha Xi Delta, and I spend a majority of my free time playing games on my Playstation 3. I love games, I love talking about games, I love writing about games, and one day I hope to make a career of it. This confuses most people, like my parents and peers, and in class when my professors ask what we plan to do in the journalism field, when I answer with "I want to review video games, travel to conventions, and interview game developers!" It is usually met with a look of concern and mumbling "...mmm...yes...interesting..." I am often asked how I got into video games and I've never really thought about it myself, it just kind of happened. So now it's time to take a trip down memory lane to where it all began.

Time Warp

This journey begins way the early 2000's. My dad was moving from my small hometown of Tonopah, Nevada to lovely Las Vegas. In the midst of packing and unpacking a wild Sega Genesis appeared. It was my older brothers and it somehow found its way into my room with a copy of Sonic 2. Being a child of divorced parents, my time with Sonic was limited to the few times a month I got to visit. But oh, did I make that time worth it. Often times I would play the game over and over until I could see the first glimpse of the hot Las Vegas sun rising over the valley. I don't quite remember how long this went on, but eventually my dads lease ended and he once again packed up to move back to the hell hole that is Tonopah and that was the last I saw of the Sega Genesis.

Dawn of The Nintendo DS

It was early middle school and everyone on the volleyball bus had the holy grail that was Nintendo DS.  We were tending to our virtual NintenDogs, expressing our immature adolescent minds with obscene drawings on the chat, endlessly co-oping our way through Super Mario Bros., and battling it out on every level of Mario Kart. The Nintendo DS was awesome...and I might have just asked my mom to find mine and mail it to me, cause the mere thought of the fun I had with this system has me itching to play some Mario Kart DS. This was the only time in my life when I didn't get crap for my gaming habit because everyone was doing it. But like all fads, it came to an end and Nintendo DS' all across Tonopah began to collect dust. Luckily for me, this was only the beginning of something greater.

The Wonderful World of Grand Theft Auto

I was a fresh little 13 year old when I first drove through the neon drenched streets of Vice City. My best friend and I would spend hours driving, running, rampaging, cheating, running from cops, picking up the occasional prostitute, and going on murderous killing spree's. After typing that sentence I'm a little worried for my sanity, and I have to wonder if my parents really knew what they were getting into when they started fueling my gaming hobby. As you have probably realized by now, I was a bit of a late bloomer to the world of video games. I had only roamed the world of Vice City and had never touched San Andreas when Grand Theft Auto IV was announced. But, for obvious reasons, I just had to have this game. I immediately began selling the idea of buying a Playstation 3 and a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV to my mom and step-dad. When they asked why on Earth this sudden obsession and what is so great about this game that I just have to have, my little 8th grade self answered, "It's great, you run around the world and kill people!" Just typing that sentence makes me question my parents sanity because that argument worked. They brought me outside like one of those kids on My Super Sweet 16 about to get a custom car revealed. Only this was better than any custom BMW embellished with nothing but diamonds. There in the backseat sat my brand new perfectly packaged PS3 and a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV. I played the game vigorously, I explored every little corner of the map, stole every car, soaked in every little detail in every little mission, and felt a little lost when those credits started to roll and I realized my time with the cold and calculating Niko Bellic and the cast of interesting characters had come to an end. The game was near perfect, though that is an unpopular opinion nowadays. Though I had played many games before that, GTA IV was the first to start my love affair with everything video games.

The Dark Days of High School

It's a universal fact that everyone hates high school, right? Wrong. In my small hometown of Tonopah with only about 2,400 people it seemed I was the only one who couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. Not too say my high school experience was awful, it was far from it. I had great friends, I was voted part of homecoming court, and classes were so easy that I stayed home and played video games for nearly 80 days out of the 180 day school year and still managed to graduate with a 4.0...let that sink in. 
In Tonopah the big thing is sports. To hear some of the people talk in town you would think we were living in Dillon, Texas from the show Friday Night Lights. If that were the case I would have enjoyed living there much more.

Seen this image around the web recently?
Yep, that's my hometown
Our high school was classified as 1A having only about 150 students in the entire school! The big thing every year was bringing home a state championship as if it was the greatest accomplishment in life and that the whole world would take notice. However, in a state with schools like Bishop Gorman and Findlay Prep recruiting and producing world class athletes, no one knows or gives a shit about this school in the middle of no where. Do I sound bitter? I suppose I am, because I was cut from the volleyball team my Senior year after having played since 6th grade.
Every weekend my friends would leave town to play various teams around the state while I sat home. This was the time I played the most games for the most hours. I may have broken world records at this point. I played to completion all 3 Uncharted games, Batman Arkham Asylum and City, Bioshock, Journey, Flower, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2, World at War, Black Ops, GTA Episodes from Liberty City, Assassin's Creed through Brotherhood, L.A. Noire, and my favorite game of all time Red Dead Redemption. I'm sure there are more but that's all that comes to mind now. These games were my escape, a virtual world to explore that was much more interesting than what was going on in my reality at the time. I had finally found something I was good at.

10 Years & Counting

So there you have it, the humble beginnings of what became an addiction. With a large and still growing library of games, free space on my PS3 slowly dwindling, struggling to find time to play between college classes, homework, and sorority functions, and patiently waiting for the funds to get a PS4, I don't see this little hobby of mine ending anytime soon. And thanks to this lovely day and age I can now document every moment of my gaming life for all the Internet to see. I hope you can bare with me through all the grammatical errors, (I'm sure there are a lot) and enjoy the journey with me. For more gaming ramblings and more of my everyday thoughts feel free to follow me on Twitter @AshtynMarlow