In December of 1992, while I was on Christmas break from Berea College, my mother had been listening to the morning ‘swap-shop’ radio program. Someone had called in and stated they had seven Nintendo game cartridges for sale for the NES system. She thought these would make a great Christmas present for my twin sisters, so she called and set up a time to meet, look over the games, and then she bought them.
When she brought the games home, my sisters were looking through them. The gold cartridge caught our attention. There wasn’t any booklets with the games, and the name of this game was nearly rubbed away. They piddled around with this little elf-looking character and roamed endlessly from screen to screen. None of us could figure out what the purpose was except to kill these strange creatures.
They quickly got bored with the game and went to do something else. I grabbed the controller and began walking from screen to screen, thinking that there must be something to this game, a reason for why you’d even bother playing it. This was before the Internet, so we didn’t have access to information. Explore and discover.
I did this for about a half hour, wandering aimlessly, killing creatures and little else. Then I came upon a bridge and crossed to a little island. A large tree stood in the center of the island with a black rectangle, which was the doorway. I entered, the music changed, and I was inside a dungeon. The game suddenly became interesting, and my twin sisters returned to the living room to watch.
After completing the one dungeon, the task became exploring all the areas, trying to locate the next one. But, we discovered a problem that we didn’t expect. The old game cartridge had a defect, perhaps from overuse from the previous owners, but you couldn’t save the gameplay. We found this out the hard way. After turning it off the game, we lost everything.
Games are addictive to those who love playing them, but they also become addictive to watch. My curiosity always had me wondering what happened at the next level or stage. My sister, Jenny, was the game master when it came to playing Mario, Castlevania, Dark Cloud, etc. She played, and we helped solve the puzzles. So after we had lost all the progress I had made, she played until she got back to where we had turned off the game. The problem was that we had to leave the console on constantly. She had played hours each day, so she didn’t want to lose what she’d earned.
I had to return to Berea when because my break had ended, but at that time, she still had not found all of the castles. Two friends who lived in the dorm room on the floor below mine played Nintendo games all the time. I stopped by their room and asked if they had ever played it. Of course they had … several times. I told them of the progress and that we didn’t know where the other dungeons were. They told me where they were hidden and how to enter them. I, in turn, called my sisters and relayed the information to them.
They were excited about the news and she beat the game while I was at college. The console had been on nonstop for two weeks. Then, I got to tell them what Kevin and Tom had told me about the second game if you typed ZELDA as your character’s name. So Jenny set on the new adventure.
Those memories of discovery in The Legend of Zelda remain dear to me, because as a family we sat and watched these mysteries and puzzles unfold. Writing is similar to this for me, especially when it comes to the Realms of Aetheaon.
I passed 50K words this morning in a region I didn’t know was there. Had I not chosen to look closer, I wouldn’t have discovered the city or the odd Dwarven race that resides there.
When you look at the full map of the United States, you get a general idea of terrains, but you don’t see the people, the houses, the rivers, creeks, lakes, or mountains, etc. To truly know what is on the landscape and the types of people in the area, one must travel to places sometimes off the beaten path. While I cannot physically travel to these fictional places in Aetheaon, I do visit them through the eyes and ears of my characters, which is an adventure I can’t find in the real world.
Until next time ….