An Ode To The Gaming Television - LetMeGetToACheckpoint Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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An Ode To The Gaming Television

This past week has continued my recent theme of an insanely hectic work period.  So much so that even my limited gaming time largely evaporated during these past seven days.  Sad I know.  During one of these mornings when I should have been gaming I was instead sipping a large iced coffee in the predawn on the bus.  My mind wandered over the gaming that I wished I was engaged in and I thought about the evolution of my personal "gaming center."

Wow, just wow.  I wish that I had one.

For console gamers, the television is a central proponent of the gaming center.  Just as apps such as Netflix and HBO GO are only available on Xbox Live for those who already have a series of purchases such as an internet connection, a Xbox Live subscription, and a subscription to the desired app.  The console is almost worthless without a television to plug into, nowadays not completely worthless because other screens can be used.  Looking back on the evolution of my gaming television I marvel at the changes in both I and technology since the early nineties. 

Somehow, someway in the early nineties I wanted a Sega Genesis.  After my parents separated, my mother began working a newspaper route in order to earn a few more dollars.  As the oldest child, I was about eight, I helped her in the predawn (a bizarre similarity to my current morning routine) bag and deliver the newspapers while my younger siblings slept in the minivan.  My mother was, and is, not a video game fan but she allowed me $20 from each paycheck and I saved for my beloved Sega Genesis.  Later standing at the counter of the local Toys 'R Us my short eight year old self stood mesmerized as that black and red box was handed down to me seemingly from an opening in the sky itself.

This is the red and black box of my childhood memories.  I hope the upcoming generation includes memorable packaging.  

On the ride home, my mother sternly reminded me that I was not allowed to play the console until the next day.  I agreed without a fuss.  The next day my parents met with the mediator for the divorce proceedings.  What happened next remains disputed.  However, the facts are that a list was made of my parents' shared worldly possessions, my mother had full custody of the children therefore her household needed many of the items but ultimately the television was written into my father's column. 

My father alleges that my mother demanded that he take the television but my mother insists that he demanded the television over her protestations.  Regardless, that day after school I witnessed my mother use a strength only fueled by burning fury to toss that television yelling that if my father wanted the television he could pick it up from the curb.  For those that remember, analog televisions were, and are if you have not tossed yours yet, incredibly heavy machines.  Additionally, in 1993 appliances were not cheaply replaced.  When our microwave or VCR (you young kids think of a DVD player for VHS tapes) broke Target did not have cheap replacements for $39.  Instead, we weighed which appliance mattered most and took the machine to the appliance repair shop.  Us kids voted to repair the VCR but our mother overruled us and repaired the microwave instead.      

After school that day, my Sega Genesis had no television companion.  I am unsure how much time passed, whether days or weeks or months, but eventually a kindly neighbor discovered our plight and gave us an unused television from his basement and I gamed.

Popping open the top in order to insert a CD felt very high tech at the time.

In the next couple of years, my father moved states away to Georgia/Alabama; he lived on the border of the two states.  We kids visited for eight weeks every summer.  One summer, my father placed me in front of another Toys 'R Us console display and magnanimously offered for me to choose the console of my choice.  All I knew about the consoles was my loyalty to Sega thus I chose the short lived Sega Saturn.  Back at my father's house, I set up my Sega Saturn on the extra television in his bedroom.  The television was my childhood television that my mother previously threw to the curb.  He had in fact picked it up.  The television was finally plugged into a video game console. 

I have no memory of when or why I picked up this game but it became my seminal Sega Saturn experience.  

That summer I played a game, Crusader: No Remorse, on my Sega Saturn for hours.  My red space man and I traveled the galaxy that summer taking down Stormtrooper inspired enemies and using the flamethrower as often as possible.  While I basked in the post-game euphoria of a game played to its conclusion my television screen suddenly flashed and left behind only a solid black screen.  Frantic attempts hitting the power button and reconnecting all of the cables were useless.  The television was dead with the finality that accompanies a burst tube but not before I finished my game.  The television's purpose was complete. 

We had a great summer, that flamethrower and I. 

In the next few years my siblings and I fought for control over either parent's sole television in their respective households.  Technology was expensive and in the competition amongst four children we were often forced to schedule television, and later computer, time in thirty minute increments.  Enforcing this schedule was another matter entirely.  I heavily gamed during the era of the original Playstation but dabbled in PC gaming during the time of the Playstation 2 due to increased pressures in school.    

By the start of college I was determined to have a television in my dorm room.  I felt celebratory that no younger siblings would demand changing the channel to SpongeBob SquarePants.  In order to save money my mother shut off the cable for my entire high school senior year.  In college cable was free!  I only needed a television. 

My mother and I fought bitterly over this television.  Despite having my own funds, she insisted that I did not need a television in my dorm room.  Luckily, my best friends pooled their money and for about $90 they gifted me with a 13 inch analog television from Best Buy.  Yes, in 2003 nearly $100 bought only a 13 inch television.  My laptop screen was larger but we were not yet accustomed to watching programming on our laptops. 

I was oddly hooked by this game so much so that I replayed the beginning sequence over and over just to one hit kill the henchmen with my arrows. 

Like many college students before us, but not so much after, my roommate and I adjusted our eyes and watched hours of programming on that 13 inch television, mostly Alias and Sex In The City.  Eventually, I splurged on a Playstation 2 bundle made cheap by the then-new, now current, generation.  My game of choice was Robin Hood Defender Of The Crown, the beginning of my preference for bow and arrow combat.

Aside from the historical twist that Robin Hood regularly held jousting tournaments.  Why do games no longer have first person jousting?!  

To accompany my new Playstation 2 I bought the largest analog television I could afford from a student message board.  Moving from apartment to apartment each time I lugged that monstrosity, especially up stairs, I encountered that split second thought of, "What if I just let go?  Is this television really that important?"  Inevitably, that answer was always yes and the hulking machine was always safely ensconced in my new living room.

A few years ago, as a present my girlfriend bought me a Wii and when my brother was unloading his flat screen television I could not resist a cheap upgrade.  My 26 inch Sony Bravia is nothing special but it set the technology bar in my living room.  Not long after, my television had a new Xbox 360, a console worthy of the television.

In context of the difference in moving analog televisions versus the current flat screens, my current 26 inch flat screen weighs 17 pounds whereas my old 26 inch analog television weighed about 80 pounds.  Also, in my city, much of the housing was built at the turn of the twentieth century which translates into the fact that there are nearly no elevators in housing to assist with moving.

In twenty short years we have mostly lost appliance repair stores and my house now contains four televisions, three that are in use.  The fourth is my college dorm room 13 inch analog television that is tucked away and will surely be needed again someday. 

My console is a magical machine but useless without an accompanying television.  With luck, my game time will return this week and once again my television, console, and I will be an unbeatable trio saving the universe in some shape or form.  Thank you television for your typically unacknowledged contribution in gaming, I appreciate all that you do. 

Thank you all for reading.  May your television remain a steady companion this week after all next to (or above or below) every console is a television too.

Do you have any memorable gaming televisions in your past or present?

Did you ever have trouble setting up your console to your television before we could route all wires through the HDMI cable?

Do you use a television with your console or another type of monitor?

 

 

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