My first brief hit of gaming was Super Mario Brothers in 1993, at my Granny Griffin’s neighbor’s home in the lush green world of Tipperary. I was five and in my hand was a small gray box with a cable, like an umbilical cord that connected me to a television. I made the small red and blue dots on the screen move. I was bad at it. I was vaguely aware that there was another world in there and that I traveled through it somehow with the red and black buttons under my tiny thumbs. I wanted more.
Adam down the road had a Super Nintendo. Steph, my best friend, she got one for her Holy Communion. I was devout, kneeling before televisions in my friends’ houses, leading digital men over holes in the ground. Collecting mushrooms, collecting stars—just think about that for a second. Collecting actual stars. Reading had already taken me wild by the heart but this—this was something different.