All it took for one man to become a lifelong gaming fanatic was a Sega Genesis and an Apache gunship.

Arcades aren’t what they used to be, but not that long ago, they were the place to go to play the best looking games. Home consoles like the NES just couldn’t compete, but with the release of the first 16-consoles, the tables soon turned. In Issue 290 of The Escapist, Russ Pitts talks about one fateful summer, when an encounter with a certain Sega console turned his interest in videogame into an outright passion.

While I was away at school, my stepfather had bought a Sega Genesis game console. He had only one game for it: Desert Strike, the arcade-like helicopter shoot-em-up. I don’t think he ever got past the first level, or even knew there were more levels than one. As far as he knew, the only point of the game was to fly around and blow things up. Sometimes, pick up guys. He’d fly around for hours, looking for things to shoot until he died or ran out of fuel (Return to frigate!), then he’d get bored and go back to work.

For my stepfather, the Genesis was a curiosity. It was an arcade cabinet in miniature. It was something to be enjoyed for a few idle moments, then left alone, like the arcade games of yore. Like the Asteroids cabinet he had in his office, in fact, which mostly collected dust. But to me the Genesis was something wholly different than that. Yes, it contained the power to reproduce most arcade experiences with the same performance and graphical excellence as you’d find in the arcade, but the 16-bit Genesis was also a modern game console, carrying on the tradition of the NES. And this meant long-term, immersive play experiences. Better, it meant arcade-quality, long-term immersive play. I was smitten.

Once the living room could rival the arcade, there was nothing standing between Pitts and a lifelong love of games. You can read more about it in his article, “The Genesis Effect.”

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