Naturally, I upgraded. It would be another decade before I gave up PC gaming entirely, but the seeds of that revolution were planted right here, in 1995, and Star Wars wielded the trowel. Taught me the shortest distance between me and playing the game was the way to go. And that meant only one thing: buying a console.
In the winter of 2005, after a disastrous evening of trying - and failing - to rekindle the spark of life in one of my hand-built desktop gaming rigs, I decided to throw in the towel. At 2 A.M., drunk and disappointed, I slipped Amazon my credit card number, and a few days later they delivered an Xbox and Knights of the Old Republic. I played that game from beginning to end over the course of a long New England winter, and it was one of the greatest game experiences of my life.
Knights of the Old Republic and that big, ugly Xbox kick-started a love affair with console gaming that's still going strong. I know it will never be the same as playing on a PC; I haven't completely lost my mind. But I don't so much care anymore. It was never about the PCs for me, just like the programming of .BAT files was never about the programming itself, and the bowling alley was never really about the bowling. It has always, always been about the games. Especially the Star Wars games.
A couple of years after I bought my Xbox, Star Wars: Republic Commando taught me to trust people, after a good friend of mine spent weeks talking me into playing it. The year before, another Star Wars game, Rebel Assault, taught me to trust myself. I half-expected it to be bad, and it was. Obi-Wan had whispered to me it was in the bargain bin for a reason, but, like my friend, I ignored him. I should have listened to Ben. I should have let go my feelings and used the force. Lesson learned.
Neither of those games, though, had the impact of Knights of the Old Republic. That one taught me there's nothing finer than a long winter break and a meaty roleplaying game you can play from the comfort of your couch. Also, it had lightsabers. Total win. It taught me to not be shy about my love for games, and Star Wars. Watching Luke strike his father down on the silver screen may not be as world-bending an event as the civil rights movement, but it spoke to me pretty loudly, and I've carried the lessons with me since that day, for better or worse. Mostly better, I hope.
Russ Pitts has been looking forward to playing Star Wars: The Force Unleashed since he saw a demo at last year's E3. He will not, however, write a letter to LucasArts if he doesn't like it. His blog can be found at www.falsegravity.com