My first, and possibly most formative, video game experience was watching my father rescue the princess in the original Super Mario Bros for the NES. I revered him for it, and I don't know if I ever managed to achieve the task myself. Ironically, my father has hardly touched any games since, but I think that experience cemented my fate as a life-long gamer. I played on that NES until it hardly worked and you had to blow on cartridges for a half hour to get anything besides a purple screen. Man, that was a good system.
Many of my other memorable gaming experiences came courtesy of my cousins. They owned an SNES, a system I only got to play at other people's houses, and they had an impressive game library to boot. Thanks to them, I got to play classics like Contra III, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Metroid, which still remains one of my all-time favorites. One year, they were playing Super Mario RPG. It looked cool, but also terribly confusing. What did the numbers mean? Why weren't they dodging attacks? My cousins were kind enough to explain some rudimentary RPG mechanics to me and, despite my limited understanding, I played through a large portion of that game and loved it. Then my cousins introduced me to Final Fantasy VI, and proceeded to blow my little eight-year-old mind.
I had never experienced anything like Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy III then). It had gorgeous graphics, an epic story, and a varied cast of characters. It also had a score that made me stand up and take notice, and it was the first time I wanted to listen to a game's soundtrack outside of the game. I could still hum some of its themes years later, and that was in those dark pre-YouTube days. That experience planted a seed in my brain that would slowly blossom into an enthusiasm for strong narrative and memorable music in video games.
Music was a big part of my life in other ways too. My father is not a musician, but he is one of the most enthusiastic and eloquent music appreciators I know, and music was always playing around the house. I grew up doing lots of theater, discovered choir in high school, and later pursued a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education. In college, I fell in love with classical music and opera. I also learned how critical listening can enrich our understanding and enjoyment of any type of music, including video game soundtracks.
These days, I am happily married, studying for a career in IT, still trying to stay busy as a performer, and still getting as much gaming in as I can. Every once in a while, I start to wonder if I might be getting too old for this stuff, especially RPGs, which aren't generally known for being concise. But every time I take a gaming hiatus, the first thing I miss is the music. The music pulls me back every time.
I am very grateful to RPGFan for giving me this opportunity to talk about something I love, improve my skill as a writer, and engage with an awesome community. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put on some Yuzo Koshiro and party like it's 1987...