After reading the brief piece, “You Had to Be There” and thinking about all the video game related experiences with which I could relate that same thought, I realized just how much my gaming experiences are all about “being there” well after it has happened. Whether it is through replaying old NES and SNES games on my computer, or replaying games on my actual Nintendo 64 and Gameboy Color from time to time, a good part of of my current gaming experience still includes games from ‘there.’
I think most of this has largely to do with the fact that when preserved, video games can offer new experiences at different points in life that encourage you to come back. Much like how re-reading a book years after the first time you picked it up can give you a new perspective on the story, replaying a game you haven’t picked up since grade school opens a world that feels simultaneously familiar and new again. Playing Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the N64 in early elementary school meant running into Hyrule Field and waiting until nightfall so I could cut down all the enemies that sprouted out of the ground (over and over and over again). Playing it again in middle school meant actually learning what to do and figuring out its puzzles. Playing it now, I appreciate all the thought and work that went into the game, while also considering how much the games have advanced since then.
What “You Had to Be There” made me realize, then, is that because of their ability to be preserved both physically and digitally, video games make it slightly easier to revisit a modern version of “there,” even if experiencing the original context and time isn’t possible anymore.