While games provided plenty of fodder for boyish power fantasies, they could inspire devotion as well. RPGamer.com editorialist Sam "Nyx" Marchello shared a veritable Lunar obsession with a fellow female pal growing up, poring through the game's strategy guide as if it were a piece of illustrated literature rather than a manual, and eventually extrapolating her own comics revolving around the adventures of their "boyfriends," characters Kyle and Nash, with whom they'd elected to be in love. Nyx recalled their Lunar days with a fond pang at her friend's wedding - where her playmate had at last decided to forego Kyle in favor of a real husband.
Of course, not all gamer memories are about idyllic creativity or love. Given that most of the games with which we grew up revolved around fighting, it's unsurprising that so many kids recall having gotten hurt. Austin Walker, US/Canada editor at OneLastContinue, recalls having jump ropes confiscated from him because he and his friends were using them as whips in their games of Castlevania's Belmonts-versus-Draculas. Likewise, Asael Barcena's parents must have worried endlessly over their son's Mortal Kombat fandom - he remembers slinging his dog's leash at his brother while shouting "Get over here!" Scorpion-style, whenever he felt the urge.
It only takes one lapse in judgment for pretend violence to become all too real, as Dominic Sileo found out. He and his friends used to envisage themselves as Street Fighter heroes whenever they played in the public pool, turning acrobatic flips underwater or splashing to simulate Blanka's electricity. "However, one day my cousin decided he wanted to Spinning Pile-Drive me," Sileo recalls. "I foolishly obliged. That was not the smartest of decisions. Being upside down, spinning and having your head smacked into the ground of a concrete floor (even in a pool) is never really the greatest of ideas. We got kicked out of the pool for the rest of the day on that one."
This pretend-combat continues to influence many gamers even into adulthood. Growing up play-fighting Mortal Kombat on the playground's balance beam (so that losers could "fall into The Pit," of course), Michael Rousseau later pursued the discipline of martial arts - where his videogame memories are an occasional liability. "I thought for the longest time that the best way to finish a fight is with an uppercut," he reflects. "Even with my martial arts training, I still find myself wanting to forgo simple, safe and proven self-defense techniques in lieu of a flashy uppercut. It's a tough habit to break."
It didn't take a fighting game to bring out the morbid side in some kids - Michael Grove remembers being inspired by Oregon Trail. "As the precocious little second grader I was, I'd assemble a party of students and drive them across the country on a Muppet Babies-grade 'journey of the imagination' using a piece of playground equipment as a wagon," he says. "If memory serves, I'd kill off one or two kids every time. For the sake of emotional impact."