Justin Williams | Instagram: @justinwillliams | Instagram: @BushWackGaming
That’s all it takes. One word alongside one piece of punctuation. The entire group chat knows precisely what it means. Responses include “Be on in a second” or “Finishing up Dinner right now” or the famous “already here.” You rarely say no and Heaven forbid you’re the last one to show up. It all stems down to one thing. From the age you could read scripture to this very point in time, if you played video games, the influence they have on our lives is arguably unmatched.
In today’s blog, I’m going to run you through the story of how I became akin to video games and the timeline of systems and games that I grew up on. We'll go over some of my most notable memories from being introduced to the first-ever legitimate matchmaking game modes, and some pretty hilarious interactions there-in-after.
Let’s Ready up!
I was born in September of ’96. The beginning of the perfect time to be alive for any future gamer. I grew up on the Super Nintendo and this was before I could even read. Mario was simple enough for my five-year-old self to handle. I was also introduced to the Nintendo 64 around this time period along with the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and the revolutionary Game Boy SP. I recall sitting on the floor of my family room, being babysat by my grandfather while he watched me play Donkey Kong 64. He would challenge me and say, “Don’t go in the water!” But naturally I would anyway and we both got a good laugh. Nothing else crazy happened during this time period, it was simply a true period of growth and watching my brother, who was five years older than me, dominate the games. This time frame also gave way to the Game Cube which I spent countless hours attempting to play Sonic Adventures and NHL HITS “DOUBLE OH-TWO!” I was still young in the game and didn’t understand what saving progress was. I’m sure you can tell where this is going. My neighbor and brother were at the end of their Sonic Adventures game play which, at the time, was one of the best games on the Cube. I logged into their game play when they weren’t around, played a game, died, respawned, realized I was in a different area, and thought “Oh rats! ;) they’re going to find out I played!" I decided the best idea was to pull the memory card out and accidentally deleted every piece of memory they had achieved up to that point. Full days of game play simply vanished. They found out it was me. I placed myself in time-out and never touched his shit again. Looking back, I now understand that having a little sibling must’ve been very difficult.
Middle School – High School
By this time period, I was a total junkie. I was a 12-15 year old, acne blazing, Mountain Dew and Dorito eatin’, rootin tootin, 40 year-old-in-his-mom’s basement lookin’ son of a bitch. And damn was I okay at video games. You’d think the “Start em early” mentality of video games would’ve fostered me beautifully into this time frame and it couldn’t have been further from the truth. During this frame I had the Nintendo DS, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, Wii, you name it. My older brother, now late high school and early college continuously dominating me in video games and teaching me lessons left and right. This time period was the DAWN of the super console. The Xbox and Xbox 360 Elite, my TRUE start. Halo, Gears of War, Crimson Skies, NFL Street, the list is damn near endless and the stories infinite. A couple glaring memories from this point in time include LAN parties. If you never had a LAN party growing up, you missed out big. LAN parties took place before the major rise of Wi-Fi. Basically, you showed up to your friend’s house with your own monitor, your own console set and the mentality that you would be the king of the sleepover. You would hook the consoles directly to each other and grind away on custom game modes until your eyes bled. BUT ANYWAY, another one of the funniest moments came when I was in about 6th grade. The Xbox was starting to fade out and give rise to the new Xbox 360. Xbox Live had taken a major leap forward in regard to connectivity and this is where the ridiculous story comes into play. It was a sunny and absolutely gorgeous afternoon and my brother, his friend and I were outside playing wiffle ball. Naturally I was getting beat up on by two guys in high school that were so much older and more experienced in the wiffle arts, so I got frustrated and did… well I did a thing. I took the bat and while my brother’s friend was least expecting, absolutely drilled him in the schnads (pronounced Shh-nads) with the wiffle ball bat. Needless to say, I was in a lot of trouble and his friend had to go home shortly after. JUST SO HAPPENS my brother logs onto Xbox live and low and behold his friend was on there playing with him and this became the first and last time I ever had to apologize to someone over a Halo Xbox server. My brother said, take the microphone and tell him you’re sorry… one of the most embarrassing days of my life. One of the last major memories and a great one at that, was glitching the early the Xbox. I used to watch my brother run into the kitchen and snag a few pieces of tin foil. I would think he was playing some sort of trick on me here but in reality and after much reflection, I came to the realization that if you place tin foil over the WiFi extender antenna on the 360, it glitched the other players and made them run in slow motion so they became easier to kill. My battle station was not on the couch during these times with a controller in my hand but rather hunkered down next to the TV and console and waiting for my brother’s “GO NOW!” to place the tin foil wrapping over top the antenna.
College – Present
By now I knew how to read. This is the big leagues now. This is where things became serious for me. A literal lifetime of playing games had all led me exactly where I needed to be: the bottom of every damn leaderboard I played in. In reality, I am just kidding. This is truly where I found my calling, The Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. The most advanced, pristine and high-quality pieces of console gaming hardware the world has ever seen. I have spent days’ worth of hours on Halo 4 and 5, Assassin’s Creed, Star Wars Battlefront II, Call of Duty, Horizon 4 along with many of the other big titles that exist. Multiplayer matchmaking has become the standard and with that the rise of ultimate squads with your crew. I sit here writing this article in mental preparation for my new gaming PC to arrive and delve into this new and exciting world of gaming that exists. We are about 6 months away from the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 release dates as well. I have since began my own brand of gaming called BushWack Gaming, a brand sponsored by Free Parking which is in place to promote that ANYONE can become a professional gamer. If you like what you read here, expect to see some more of this BS over on Instagram and Facebook @bushwackgaming.
The year is now 2020 and I sit in quarantine about to queue up my console and squad up in some Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. In times like this I had to sit and reflect on my gaming journey and it wouldn’t have been the same without my brother's lessons, friend's competitiveness and family for allowing me to play.
One thing to never forget and cherish about video games: you never know when the last time you will squad up with your crew will be.
Play every game whole-heartedly and remember that these pieces of technological equipment are what got you through some of the hardest times in your life. My lasting thought about video games goes out to all competitors in future lobbies against me and my team… “You mess with one man, you got us all.”
Co-Owner at Free Parking
Chief Content at BushWack Gaming