Occasionally I participate on the /r/WritingPrompts subreddit. When I do, I’ll post my work here, because why not.
This is the original prompt. My response follows.
I’ve been into video games for as long as I can remember. Hell, when I finished high school I had more game consoles than dates. But I’ve always had a soft spot for Nintendo in particular. Back in the late 90’s, Nintendo came out with this line of collectible figurines. Naturally, I had to have them all. I was just shy of fourteen years old when my mom got me my first pair–Mario and Link. They were my reward for doing so well in school that year.
But the Toys R’ Us in my area had ten more of these little toys in stock. I whined and moaned to my parents for the complete set, but they weren’t about to cave in over a few bits of plastic; I was encouraged to get out of my comfort zone and come up with the money myself. There were lawns to be mowed, dogs to be walked, newspapers to deliver–good thing nobody in my neighborhood had Internet service yet! My allowance would only take me so far, so I took every opportunity I could.
I remember being obsessed with the little figurines. Maybe a little bit too much so, but there were worse things I could’ve centered my life around. I had grabbed some old jars from the basement and labeled them with the names of characters in the set; Donkey Kong, Samus, Yoshi, plus a few others I hadn’t heard of at the time (Pikachu, Ness, etc.) but still needed to round out my collection. When I had a bit of extra cash, I would plunk a few bills and coins into one of these jars. When one of them filled up with $15 (the price of each figurine), my dad would take me to Toys R’ Us.
Many lawns and mowed and one Sega Saturn sold off later, all twelve graced my bedroom. Seeing Mario, Luigi, Kirby, and the rest of them on my shelf was one of the proudest moments of my life thus far. If I’d been diagnosed with cancer that day, I would have died happily.
After a few weeks, the novelty wore off; they were now just there. School started, and my priorities shifted back to actually playing games. The figurines had come out too late in the school year for my classmates to really be abuzz about them, and by the time September rolled around my friends were too busy waiting for Pokemon Yellow to care.
Soon after the warnings for Hurricane Floyd started to roll in. Flooding, property damage, interrupted public transportation and more were all predicted–but none of that worried me as long as I had my Game Boy Color at hand! As the power went out, my face went into smug mode as I groped around my backpack for the little red brick. I’d be waiting out this storm in style…except I’d left it at my grandma’s earlier that week. Rats! With no electricity, I had no video games! What would I do to pass the time? I sat there, bored, counting the little paint bumps on the wall next to my bed.
The hour and the minute hands spun around the clock, but I was no more satisfied with the diversions my bedroom could offer than when the lights went out. Maybe I’d clean up a bit to pass the time, I guess. God forbid. I took out some of my old video games and started alphabetizing and dusting them. First my Super Nintendo. Let’s see…Star Fox. Good. Mega Man VII. Nice. Super Street Fighter II. Eh. I’d never really been a fan of Street Fighter, and I’m still not. I couldn’t really get attached to the characters; they were just muscular dudes that shouted weird Japanese things.
What if Mario was in a fighting game, though? What if he was in Street Fighter? Nah, that’d never happen–but something about that idea just made sense. I abandoned my dust rag and walked over to my shelf, flashlight in hand. Mario sat above his second fiddle Luigi. It’d be kind of funny seeing Luigi try to get back at Mario for hogging the spotlight. Luigi wouldn’t get a chance to be more than just Player 2 for a few years. My idle right hand reached for my Luigi figurine, holding it at an angle that allowed me an appreciative gaze of his face. I pinched the head between my thumb and forefinger, and swung the base of the figurine towards Mario, knocking him off the shelf and onto the floor. I was left feeling strangely satisfied and smug. I didn’t know it yet, but I had an imagination, and just then I had used it to pretend Luigi was kicking the crap out of Mario. But why stop there? I bet plenty of other video game characters wanted to get even with Mario.
And on that day, my career in game design would begin. Even now I still have those figurines, plus a bunch of others from later lineups.