Goodbye PS2, A Non-Asshole Boyfriend's Remembrance
The Sony Playstation 2 is no longer being manufactured. The sixth generation system lasted a good 13 years, and is actually the best selling home console of all time so far. Roughly one person in every seven worldwide has owned one. New games were still being released up to fourth quarter of last year, with Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 being the final official title. An expansion pack for Final Fantasy XI, Seekers of Adoulin is still scheduled for release in Japan in March.
It was reported earlier this week by my colleague Abby Koenig that the demise of the console left mixed feelings in her heart. Though not a gamer herself, she purchased one for an unemployed live-in boyfriend as part of a birthday ultimatum where the only other choice was some sort of unpleasant sex act. Over the course of the rest of their relationship, Abby was tortured as she tried to read in their tiny, one-room apartment while her boyfriend endlessly played whatever Madden was out at the time. His other obsession was Tony Hawk games... known for their equally obnoxious soundtracks.
Eventually, Abby sent this prize gem packing when she caught him cheating on her, and she threw the PS2 out with him as a punishment for his new girlfriend. I understand Abby's point of view, but as long as we're speaking here at the wake of my favorite system I thought I'd offer a different perspective because I feel the Playstation 2 did nothing but enrich the relationship I have with my wife.
Though I was a fanatical gamer through my teens, I all but completely stopped playing in my 20s. While still living at home the Brother With One F had pawned my N64 and all my games, and I never really went out of my way to replace the system. I was rarely home, and the girl I was dating then had little interest in games aside from the occasionally round of Revolution X at Numbers when out dancing. When I left my father's house to move in with the girl who eventually became the Wife With One F, all I took with me gaming-wise was an abandoned PS1 and four games from Final Fantasy series. Even those were just because I treated playing through them as some kind of relaxation exercise.
Then in 2004 I decided that her Christmas gift would be a diamond ring and a request for marriage, a request she accepted. In addition to saying, "yes," she went out and bought me a Playstation 2 as an engagement present. I argued that agreeing to marry me was enough of a present, but she insisted. It had been a bad year... she'd been out of work, reduced to selling sex toys with a $40,000 bachelor's degree, and we'd lost our best friend to a long and painful cancer. Things were finally starting to get a little brighter, and she knew a part of me missed gaming. She fought the Christmas crowds and I ended up with a console and two games, Legacy of Kain: Defiance and The Hobbit.
Now, at this time our entertainment center was this enormous set of stainless steel industrial shelving. It sounds awful, but it was actually really neat. First off, it was the only thing we could find that would hold our enormous television, one of the last big cathode ray TVs that had been a gift from my uncle when he upgraded to plasma. This left us with an extra, much smaller TV which lived down in the bottom right-hand corner. We didn't use it for anything, but it was a perfectly fine TV and we saw no reason to throw it out. Meanwhile, the rest of the center looked like Halloween exploded all over it. It was a glorious gothic centerpiece for the living room, completely overshadowing the ugliest couch in existence.
Even with the new system I still didn't play much, until one day we reached a pretty amazing compromise. I generally let her control the television because I have a very low threshold for enjoyment. I can find amusement in just about anything, but then she started watching all the bride reality shows like Say Yes to the Dress and I found myself on the edge of sanity. We made a deal. I would hang out with her and watch the programs if she would allow me to game on the little TV with the sound off.
That's how we spent our nights at home. Both of us watching TV, even during that horrible period where she wanted to get all the Charmed episodes, with me sitting on the floor, head on her leg, trying to make my way through SSX3 or Kingdom Hearts. We joked, we laughed, we talked about our day, all while I enjoyed her engagement gift to me in a way that didn't isolate her.
We did occasionally play together. She got the idea for the present in group plays of SSX3 at a friend's house after all, and we both got really into Guitar Hero co-op for a while until we realized it was making us adore terrible songs. I liked her help in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Very underrated for a licensed title) but she tired of it quickly. She's never going to be much of a console gamer, which brings us to act three.
When things were going much better my wife started going on business trips for her new job. She doesn't do well with flying. It usually takes alcohol and a session of hypnosis to keep an anxiety attack at bay. I suggested we get her a Nintendo DS to occupy her on flights. Sort of my payback for the PS2. She agreed, and became addicted to the Cake Mania series, and later to the remakes of old school Final Fantasies and the LEGO games.
That's how you'll find us these days when I don't have an assignment and she doesn't have to study. The entertainment center is long gone after we were afraid the kid would climb it. Still, she curls up in the papasan chair with her 3DS and I have whatever new PS3 game (Also a gift from her) or Wii game (A gift from my brother as apology for the N64) going on a nice low volume so we can talk. It's loud enough for her to follow along. In fact, she's requested I buy Portal 2 again because she enjoyed GLaDOS so much.
Though we game in different ways on different systems, we still manage to make it a family activity, and it reminds me of how I would spend hours watching my brother navigate Resident Evil rather than play myself. Also, it helped lead me to my current career talking about video games.
Abby, I'm really sorry something so awesome and full of couple potential was ruined by the fact you dated a human hemorrhoid that apparently had as much regard for constructive gaming as he did for whatever tender orifice you bribed him to not badly misuse. I think you made a mistake, though. You should have kept the system. A) Getting him to beg her into buying another to make her life miserable is a way better revenge. More importantly, B) Just like sex, gaming is something you can learn to enjoy properly with a partner through consideration, flexibility, and a sense of adventure.
You can get a Playstation 2 for like $50 now and the games run less than $10 most times. Think about burying the hatchet with the system. God of War, Final Fantasy XII, Ico, Red Dead Revolver, Okami, Katamari Damacy, and all the others I mentioned earlier are waiting to show you that the problem wasn't that you dated a gamer. You dated a douchebag that other gamers hate just as much.
As for me... I still have my PS2 hooked up and ready for whenever I need it. They may not be making any more, but the old girl is still alive and kicking in the House With One F. Every once and a while I'll fire it up, and remember the flushed cheeks and beautiful girl that just agreed to be my wife insisting that I was getting the system as a gift because she loved me enough to both spend the rest of my life with me and to bring little drops of happiness into my nights. I can understand how the PS2 could be the symptom of a bad relationship. For me, it's like a diamond ring, a bended knee, and a kiss that never ends.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events