Native Nerds - Video Game Controllers - iStock
From my first indoctrination into the world of video games in 2002 to the present day, a great many things have changed.

For Native Nerds: 5 Gaming Consoles and Games of This Generation

Samuel Hopkins

Being 20 years old, I’ve been exposed to a significant part of gaming history. From my first indoctrination into the world of video games in 2002 to the present day, a great many things have changed, I will begin by discussing my earliest experiences with game consoles.

The Nintendo 64

Nintendo 64 - iStock

In 2002, my very first console experience was on the Nintendo 64, the 64 denoting 64 bit 3D graphics. In 2002 the N64 was quite a dated console considering it was released back in 1996, the year I was born. This console was Nintendo’s first console that was capable of playing games in full 3D rendering.

The games I played for this system included 007 Goldeneye, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mortal Kombat 4, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, and BattleTanx, just to name a few. This console had a lot of good games that I could’ve played all day if my parents hadn’t limited my play time. Even though this console provided me with many memorable experiences, my time with this console ended when I brought my own PlayStation 2 with money I’d saved up.

The  PlayStation 2

Playstation 2 (PS2) - Sony

Around early 2003, I managed to upgrade to the current generation PlayStation 2, or PS2 for short. Unlike the N64 that used plastic cartridges, the PS2 used a DVD that had more memory which meant it could handle larger, more complex games Additionally, since the PS2 could play DVD format discs, it was able to play music and movies, which was a big plus.

Along with the DVD format and more powerful hardware than the N64, it had an immensely large library of games. Notable games I played were the early Call of Duty series, Medal of Honor: Frontline, Sly Cooper, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, MX Unleashed, Splinter Cell, and many others. My own PS2 game library got so big, it filled up a whole shelf within a few years. Though I played the PS2 for most of the early 2000s console generation, my experience with this generation of consoles wasn’t over because in 2006, I received an Xbox as a Christmas gift from my parents.

The Original Xbox

XBox - iStock

The original Xbox happened to be a part of the same console generation as the PS2 but by 2006 when I finally managed to play one, the Xbox and PS2 were being phased out by the newer next generation PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Xbox had many of the same capabilities of the PS2, the only difference was that it had more powerful hardware which meant that it could play larger, better looking games since it was able to push more polygons than the PS2. By this time, my parents were finally allowing me to play “M” rated games so I got to play titles such as the Halo series, the Mortal Kombat series, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, and the Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. I greatly enjoyed the Xbox and I remember myself playing Halo 2 and Mortal Kombat Deception for countless weeks. In a couple years by Christmas 2008, I managed to get my parents to buy me a PlayStation 3.

The PlayStation 3

PlayStation 3 - iStock

The PlayStation 3 was by far the most expensive gaming system I’d ever possessed. In 2006, the PS3 originally retailed for $600 dollars but by 2008, the prices dropped to $500 dollars. What made this system so expensive was all of the advanced hardware. It used a state of the art CPU called a cell processor and a GPU that was capable of pushing more polygons than the PS2, Xbox, or even its competitor, the Xbox 360.

What made the PS3 extra special was that it used a disk drive that played both DVD and Blu-ray disk formats. The fact that the PS3 could play Blu-ray meant that it could play very large and complex games that took up a lot of memory on disks. Another thing about this system is that its user interface permits easy access to online downloadable apps such as games, movies, and media services. This system was also the first instance I became active as an online community member and started getting into serious online multiplayer gaming. Notable games I played for the PS3 are God of War III, the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series, Mortal Kombat, Assassin’s Creed, Fallout III, Soul Calibur, and Dynasty Warriors. Alongside this system, I did get an Xbox 360 as birthday gift in 2009 just so I can play the games exclusive for that system.

The Xbox 360

Xbox 360 - iStock

The years from 2009 to now are when I started to take gaming seriously and I believe my adoption of the Xbox 360 really started all of that. Because of the Xbox 360, I became a regular in the online community and was able to play more games than ever before. The 360 could do most of what the PS3 could except it wasn’t as powerful nor was it able to play Blu-ray. Even though the 360 wasn’t capable of running the kind of games the PS3 could run (God of War III, Uncharted, etc.) the biggest strength of this system was its superior online capabilities.

I could invite friends into a party (a sort of chat room) and invite them to play online matches with me or I could just talk with them via a headset. Although you had to pay for these online services through a membership, it was worth the monthly payments. One notable downside to this system was the lack of reliability. Early Xbox 360s were prone to failures and overheating problems; however, these problems were remedied in later models of this system. Notable game titles I’ve played for this system were Halo 3, Gears of War, Left 4 Dead, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, and Battlefield 3. Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 had long life spans extended by upgrades to the console experience as well many great games released over the years.

The years between 2002 and now have given me a lot of exposure to games and it has made me into quite a seasoned gaming veteran. Trends have switched from single player experiences to more online dedicated experiences with some games becoming completely online dependent. Formats have gone from cartridge, to DVD, to Blu-ray, to being entirely downloadable. I am aware that there are new current generation systems called the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One but I have yet to see how this generation of this systems will pan out. I’ve enjoyed each and every generation of consoles throughout these past 14 years and I do look forward to what the future has to behold for gaming.

Samuel Hopkins (Mdewakanton, Sisseton and Wahpeton Dakota, and Hunkpapa and Sicangu Lakota) is a freshman at North Dakota State University.


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