Remembering 1993 (and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System)

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 28, 2016, 4:32 PM | comments: 0

One of my friends posted a link to a Wired article about the outrage that Nintendo was selling a new system that was not compatible with the older system. That families were going to therapy over this is completely strange. But I do remember the system very vividly.

Half-way through college, in the summer of 1993, I stayed on-campus instead of going home. I barely had enough money for anything, and ate a lot of rice and ramen that summer. My room was being partially subsidized by the school while I worked at the radio station, to keep it on the air. At $4.25 an hour, it wasn't much for 20 hours a week. Amstutz Hall was hot as hell, too, and there was no air conditioning there. A friend of mine, well-off by comparison, had a new SNES, and the fantastic Super Mario World. I wasted some good hours playing that game.

This was a period of time where I was really trying to figure myself out. I didn't feel like I belonged anywhere, which in retrospect seems weird because of all the things that I was involved with. I was an RA, so I was part of the residence life scene. I had one of the staff positions with the radio station. I was producing a couple of TV shows for the TV station. I was to start writing for the school newspaper. But I still felt uncomfortable for some reason, and it's something I still don't entirely understand. I wanted to belong, but didn't feel like I did.

At the end of that summer, I remember being back home for a week or so before RA training started, and I bought a 21" TV and a Super Nintendo. It was my first big credit card buy, a little over $300, as I recall. It was a lot of money at the time! (I didn't start to really make poor choices with credit until two or three years later.) Those games gave me a lot of solitary joy over the next two years. I remember the soundtrack of Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead and Pearl Jam while battling Bowser.

Fortunately, I did have a couple of close friends as that year ended. One was a loner himself, another eventually became my roommate and best friend at the time (female besties seems like a trend, in retrospect), another almost literally acted as my therapist, since he was a psych major. By the next summer, I think I started to adopt the sense that belonging isn't just about who likes you, that it's a two-way thing. I started to let go a bit and be who I wanted to be. Friends later suggested that I may have seemed somewhat aloof, but it was more a pattern of indifference, I think. It was a transitional period where I became more focused on my goals, something I've been inconsistent about my entire life.

I probably played through that Mario game a half-dozen times in that two year period. Donkey Kong Country was another stand-out, as was Super Metroid. It turns out that music may have soundtracked my life, but video games defined some of my free time as well.


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