September 26, 2021

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The rules of a gaming friendship

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Childhood friendships are frequently born out of practicalities, I suspect. Things like being geographically nearby are important, but there’s also the more mercenary aspect of childhood – having a friend who has all the ‘cool’ stuff that you don’t. It may have blossomed into a solid adult friendship too, but I suspect convenience was a big part for how my childhood best friend and I came to be.

See, that friend lived about 300 metres from me, and it turned out we both had exactly all the cool stuff that the other person desired. He had all the books I could have wanted to read, and all the games and game consoles I didn’t have. One of the first times I visited his home, I left carrying a pile of books that I couldn’t wait to read. That’s how similar our tastes were back then. From the age of 10 to adulthood, we continued this trend through gaming. There was rarely overlap. He had a Super Nintendo while I had a Sega Megadrive, I plumped for the Playstation 1, and he favoured the Nintendo 64. It was perfect. Except, we were both very competitive kids when it came to games. Both reasonably well-matched in terms of skill level, but both slightly sore losers too. So, we gradually learned to set up some ground rules so that our friendship didn’t suffer.

This mostly stemmed from the early days of Street Fighter 2. We were a little bit too similar with how we played it. We were both very cheap. He preferred Ryu while I always went with Ken. Both of us really liked throwing fireballs at each other. You can see where this is going, right? Sounds of ‘Hadoken!’ emanated from the tiny 14″ portable TV that we crowded around, polluting the air and making us a teensy bit more aggressive towards each other. We’d cancel each other out for far too long. Never really getting anywhere, but still irritating the other person due to refusing to back down. A sensible person would try one of many other moves to circumvent this issue but, well, we weren’t as sensible as we probably should have been. It was relatively new ground in terms of learning how to play nicely.

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