I recall the moment I fell out of touch with video games.
It was 1997 during a split-screen multiplayer round of "GoldenEye 007" on the then-new Nintendo 64. The game was revolutionary for its realistic gun play. It's why my friends loved it.
It was also completely frustrating for a guy still struggling through Super Mario Brothers. I kept getting killed, in other words. I took it as a sign of the times and gave up on video games.
The rest of the world … not so much.
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Video gaming has become so embedded in popular culture that the latest releases are met with the kind of zeal that was once only afforded to blockbuster movies and Black Friday sales.
Grand Theft Auto V, for example, sold $800 million on the day it was released in September.
So the launch of Sony's PS4 Friday — followed by Microsoft's Xbox One the next week — is a big deal.
"This is pretty much the release of a new 'Star Wars' movie for the hard-core gamers," says Roque Rodriguez, a local filmmaker, founder of Fresno Swede Fest and longtime gamer. "I predict many a sick day will be attributed to the launch of these new systems."
At least one store — GameStop at Willow and Herndon avenues — hosted a midnight release party for the PS4, which costs about $400. It will host another event when the Xbox One is released next week. That system will be about $500.
Microsoft's last console, the Xbox 360, was released in 2005. The PS3 came out in 2006. So, the new systems have been a long time coming.
But the changes may not be revolutionary, at least not in the way they've been in the past, says Derrick McElroy, a local gamer and DJ who hosts a weekly Barkade night (think bar plus arcade).
"The jump between graphical power and usefulness of game play hasn't shown in the new releases, but I'm sure we'll see in the months to come," he says.
Still, he will buy an Xbox One soon and likely buy a PS4 this spring.
Rodriguez agrees that it may be some time before gamers see what the systems really have to offer.
"The games may not look much different right now, but as the life span grows, we'll really get to see what these machines are capable of. We're getting a glimpse into the future of digital entertainment, and as a fan, it's super exciting," he says. "Both the PS4 and Xbox One are taking a much bigger role in our living rooms, by not only being a vessel for us to play games with but really merging all our other devices into one box," he says.
It's a transition not lost on Fresno's Chris Brown, the executive editor and host of The Married Gamers website and podcast (themarriedgamers.net).
While many will follow these releases as a battle between machines, or at least between Microsoft and Sony, Brown sees another battle brewing between the console makers and cable/satellite providers.
"Each console is not just for gaming anymore, so it's becoming a battle over who will provide the hottest entertainment," he says.
For his money, it's the Xbox One. He likes it for its ability to link to online tools such as Skype. And also the games: "I cannot wait to go on a zombie-killing rampage in 'Dead Rising 3' on Nov. 22."