When I was six, Santa Claus gave my family a Nintendo 64. I still remember unwrapping it on Christmas morning, tugging the plain white tissue paper off the box. I was already bouncing with excitement (because Christmas), but the moment I laid eyes on that familiar logo, I knew that I was experiencing a moment of great importance. It was the beginning of something big for the Holmes family.
My sister and I haven’t always been good at finding time for each other, but games like Mario Kart 64 and Super Smash Bros helped. The N64 secured a place in my family by providing an activity we could enjoy together, despite our age difference.
A couple of weeks ago I read this article by Darik Kirschman about his experience playing Harvest Moon 64 with his sister. It took me back. I decided to reach out to my friends and coworkers and see if they had stories like Kirschman’s. Unsurprisingly, they did. Even those who don’t consider themselves to be “gamers” were eager to recollect stories of spending some time gaming with a brother or sister.
“Growing up, we always played systems that were older—when one of our friends got a PlayStation 2, we got his old Sega Saturn, and so on.
“Once I moved out of state for work and my brothers moved off to college, I realized games were probably one of the best ways for me to keep in touch with them. We Skype each other and play games together fairly frequently—I probably talk to my brothers more than my mom does, who has to remind them to call home. Maybe all she needs to do is pick up gaming!”
—Thomas Greene, Intern for Reformed University Fellowship
“My brother and I were only allowed around 20 minutes of computer games a day when we were younger, and only after we’d finished all our work, because my parents didn’t want us to get addicted or lose our imaginations. So when one of us did get our time on the family computer, we maximized it by watching the other play. Which inevitably meant that we’d both experience the same game multiple times, and even did so purposely.
“We reserved special save game slots in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for what we called ‘Normal Harry, Smart Harry, and Dumb Harry.’ Normal was the first playthrough—you looked for a little bit but mostly just experienced the game; Smart Harry meant you tried to find all the Wizard Cards and secrets; Dumb Harry meant you didn’t find any of the secrets, and purposely fell off the edge of the map. Smart Harry was always more of an individual play, but we both enjoyed watching Dumb Harry the most.”
—Lydia Duncan, Software Engineer at Cray, Inc.
“My sister, mother, and I used to be obsessed with the Animal Crossing game for Wii—my mom and sister still are! When I got a Wii U I realized that I could create a new town—and when I did I got the only fruit that they didn’t have in their town. My sister got so excited she nearly cried. We talked on the phone while we met up on the Animal Crossing world as she came to my town and picked a bunch of pears. They finally had the perfect town after five years of playing!”
—Christopher Travlos, Writer and Performer
“My little brother and I played video games together a lot. NES, Super NES…We didn’t have a lot of two-player games though, so mostly it was like pass and play with all the Final Fantasy games, Oddworld, Crash Bandicoot and such.
“There was this game on Nintendo called Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, by Capcom. You would run around the city and could pick up and throw acorns and stuff. You could also pick up each other’s characters and run around with them in the air so they couldn’t play. A lot of battles were fought over that feature. When we’d get mad at each other we’d pick up the other character and throw him to his death. I miss that game.”
—Nicole Dobbins, Graphic Designer
“When our dad went on business trips, my mom would let my brother and me rent an Xbox and a couple of games. We had a week-long window to get as far as we could in Halo, SSX Tricky, or whatever game we decided to rent. These times stand out to me because except for those brief times, we only ever had a computer to play games on. Because most of the multiplayer games we had for the computer were online-only, it meant we couldn’t play them together. We both have great stories about gaming with strangers online, but not many together, which made these moments all the more important.”
—Simone de Rochefort, Pixelkin Staff
“I mostly played video games with my younger brother when we were kids. On most single-player games, we played and worked together. We would tag team on certain levels and puzzles. My most memorable experience was when we played Donkey Kong 64 for the Nintendo 64. The funniest moment was trying to advance to a level where we needed Tiny Kong but didn’t have her yet. We basically skipped a level and were wondering why we kept failing so much!”
—Jessica Chiu, Help Desk Analyst
“As a child I was afraid of so many things, I couldn’t even watch Halloween specials of my favorite shows. But somehow, I was able to battle monsters in Final Fantasy with my older brother. He showed me everything in that game from how to navigate the caves of Narshe to how to take down the many layers of Kefka. Fighting terrifying monsters was so much more manageable knowing that my brother was there to help, and I learned to face my fears and to see that fantasy isn’t so scary after all.”
—Jillian Payne, Human Resources Assistant at San Diego Center for Children
“My brother and I had a PlayStation 1 growing up, and he played it a lot more than I did, but he couldn’t read so I would read the screen caps for him. He eventually figured out that I was intentionally misreading dialogue/quest instructions to screw with him, and he got so mad that he learned to read himself. I’m a terrible sibling. Or maybe a great sibling?”
—Morgan M. Jordahl, Content & Marketing
“When I was a kid, my siblings and I played a lot of games together, but we also took the ideas behind those games and brought them to real life. I did lots of fanart, my brother drew huge catalogs of items and weapons, and we would play imaginary games where we were video game characters.”
—Keezy Young, Pixelkin staff
“My youngest brother was a master troll at Mortal Kombat. He used to just crouch in one corner of the screen, zen-like, waiting for you to approach, and as soon as you closed he’d unload with a toasty uppercut. I never did figure out how to beat that cheapest of cheap moves, and many a controller ended up thrown angrily at the ground as a result.”
—Justin Brooks, Boeing Wing Mechanic
“When we were young, our cousins who we were really close to moved to Dallas. We got Halo and Xbox Live just so my brother and I could play with them and talk to them over the headset.”
—McCall Henderson, Accounts Receivable
“My sisters and I grew up playing video games together. One of our favorite memories was playing The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. The game has a multiplayer mode where you can help Link on his quest by playing as Tingle, a strange man that had a big nose and wore his red underpants over his green jumpsuit.
“Many people who play Zelda games don’t like Tingle, but my sisters and I became huge fans. When people at school made fun of Tingle, we would band together to defend his honor. We even decorated our binders with Tingle-themed scrapbook pages and greeted each other the same way Tingle did when you speak to him in the game.
“No matter how small the topic, we’ve always believed in the same things and had each other’s backs. I have no doubt that playing games together all the time and having that common interest was a huge part of why my sisters and I are so close.”
—Alicia Malavolti, Teacher-in-Training