This story is this week’s winner our Heart of the Revolution competetion. For his contribution, GameRevolution Forum user The_bad_who won a copy of Tacoma from our GR gift bag. Visit our forums to win next week’s prize!
I was pretty much born with a controller in my hands. I always say that being born in 1985 automatically makes me a baby Mario. My parents weren’t rich, but they saw that I always stopped in front of the TVs that read super mario bros. in electrical stores even at a young age.
A fateful Christmas, I received a NES with the classic super mario bros / Duck hunting compilation, as well as the zapper device. I spent countless hours playing these, not knowing what to do until I got better with practice. I didn’t have any other games and none of my friends had NES to let me borrow theirs, so I just kept playing Mario Brothers and Duck hunting until I finally lost interest in them. One day on the school bus a kid told me about a game called THE Legend of Zelda. I had no idea what it was, but he let me borrow it for the evening. I didn’t like it.
You see, I didn’t speak a word of English at the time. I am a French speaking guy from Montreal, Quebec, and English was not spoken near my home. Of course, looking at it now, the original Zelda really doesn’t require a lot of reading, but it looked like a huge hurdle at the time. No other game required me to understand the context of what I was doing at the time.
My parents had to give up buying me SNES because their financial situation didn’t improve much and it was MUCH more expensive in Canada. So again no Final fantasy 3, Tied to the earth, Zelda: Link to the Past etc. My best friend had one, but we only played games like Mortal combat, Star fox, Mario world and things like that; games you learned to play by playing rather than reading
Then came a revolution in my life: the Nintendo 64. I was blown away after playing Great Mario 64 for the first time. I just couldn’t understand what was in front of my eyes. I quickly started saving for one. I would mow lawns and rake leaves at my neighbor’s house to get money to buy the console, games, and Nintendo Power membership. Life was good. Then I read about this game, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. That same feeling I had after playing Mario 64 came back just looking at the pictures on the glossy pages of the magazine. I wanted this game. No, I NEEDED this game.
I got it for Christmas the same year. The gold cartridge was beautiful, but I inserted it into my newly acquired N64 and… I didn’t get it! Who is this fairy? Who is this green girl? Why is Link a little boy? I immediately went to ask my father for help. He sat down with me, translating every line of dialogue as I made my way through the dungeons.
It worked for a while, but one day when school and work resumed, he just couldn’t sit with me whenever I wanted to play. I was devastated. Seeing me like this, my father said to me: “Try to understand what they say, then come see me or write the words that you do not know.” So I did. Little by little, question by question, I finished the game without him, sometimes stuck because I didn’t know where to go, but with a sense of pride that I had never felt before.
Year after year, game by game, I slowly learned English, discovering it through all kinds of scenarios and experiences, through the N64 and, later, the PS2. I played so many games, learned so much through them that I ended up being one of the best students in my English classes, even when asked if my parents spoke it when I was a child. I always proudly said, “No, I just played a lot of video games! “. Needless to say, not everyone believed me.
Today, almost 20 years later, I can say that the Ocarina of time was not only one of the best gaming experiences I have ever had, but it has also completely changed my life. It taught me a new language that has since opened a lot of doors for me, even now at 32, but it also taught me to persevere and always try, and that nothing is done by trying, by failing, and then try again. It showed me that self-confidence can make me achieve what seems impossible at first, and always trust my instincts when I hit an obstacle and know that I will overcome it.
A few years ago my father was playing candy Crush on his tablet. I realized that he did not understand very well. I told him he wasn’t playing well, and he said, “I’ve been playing this game for months, I know how to play!” After chatting for a bit, I opened the tutorial and read it to him. I was translating a part of the game for him that he didn’t understand at first! After that, I thought about how sometimes life really comes full circle. Life is Beautiful.