In the Beginning…
There was a time, before I started PlayStation Haven that I could care less about the existence of Sony’s console. Now as a gamer I have had nearly every console that has ever been created in my home at one point or another. Even the most hardcore gamer has a favorite platform whether it be a console, handheld or PC. Growing up in the 80s and 90s my number one was Nintendo.
My family didn’t have a lot when I was young so I actually missed out on owning some of the early consoles and primarily played games in the arcade. Once I could own a console I still found my way into the arcade to play my favorites. That is until I got my Super Nintendo which was bundled with The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. As my library of SNES cartridges grew, I found myself in arcades less and less.
A New Era…
Fast forward to 1999 when I was living in my first apartment and now heavily into the Nintendo 64. Other systems were now available but with ports of my favorite arcade games, Nintendo’s great first party titles (I still find myself humming music from Wave Race 64 to this day) and Nintendo’s slick advertising, I seemed to be a Nintendo fanboy for life. In September of ’99, I picked up Sega’s new Dreamcast even though I knew I couldn’t afford it at the time and discovered a world of disc based games and INTERNET ON A CONSOLE…for about 3 days. After which I returned it to the store so I could pay my rent.
Right now, you are asking: “What the Hell does this have to do with PlayStation or Alec Baldwin?” I’m getting to it.
Soon after returning my Dreamcast, I was bombarded with friends that were encouraging me to discover the world beyond N64. The Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation offered new experiences on a new cartridge-less format. I wasn’t impressed. I was living in a one-bedroom apartment in Northridge, California and working at the Woodland Hills Target store so my budget was limited and I was happy to spend my extra cash on whatever N64 games that came out. That was until Christmas of 1999.
F$&K Scott Bakula…
I was at the limit of my patience with working at Target. I was working the day before Christmas Eve from 2p.m. until 11p.m. and just before it was time to go home, my supervisor came up and called us all over. I knew it couldn’t be good. I thought we were all about to get laid off for Christmas. It was much worse. We were getting a visit from the district office in the morning and the store was trashed. The boss man asked if anyone could stay and help clean up. I heard this but was half asleep so I did not notice that everyone had laughed, clocked out and went home. Leaving me there looking like a chump, Sooooooo I stayed and got some highly illegal overtime cleaning the store, by myself, until 7:30a.m. for…whatever reason. In 1999, I was making $6.35 an hour so the money was still lame no matter how many hours I put in. After working about 17 hours and taking a nap in the breakroom, I woke up in time for my boss to walk in with another request: “stay and run the Christmas tree lot” which I did, until 2p.m.
It was during my time in the tree lot that I met my arch nemesis: Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap, NCIS). He was not the first celebrity I met working there but he was one of the only ones that starred in stuff I actually watched. He was pretty chill…until I was told to have all the customers leave the lot for 10 minutes so we could unload some more trees. Scott wasn’t having any of it. He proceeded to tell me why he should be allowed to stay and shop. I explained to him that it was an insurance issue and that he could return in 10 minutes and I would be happy to help him purchase a Christmas Tree. He then began to hurl a series of insults and expletives my way which if you have read this far, you know today was not the right day to test my customer service skills. He even tossed in a pathetic “do you know who I am?” I played it cool and when he demanded to speak to my supervisor I thought I was free. My supervisor was a punk bitch. He gave me his badge and walked away making me supervisor. Big mistake. I let Bakula have it. I don’t remember everything that was said but I know he claimed he would never shop at my Target again to which I replied: “do you promise?”and “Now Quantum Leap your ass out of my parking lot” and he left. Good times.
I went back in the store ready to quit when I noticed that the crowd of Christmas shoppers had grown out of control. Just as Scott Bakula left, Alec Baldwin (30 Rock, The Departed) comes in and immediately gets mobbed near the door. He looks right at me and I think to myself: it is about to turn into Celebrity Deathmatch in this bitch today. It turns out Alec Baldwin was just a cool guy that wanted to grab a few last-minute gifts.
I told him where to find what he needed and almost exactly like that episode of The Simpsons where Homer was Mark Hamill’s bodyguard, I took his shopping cart and he grabbed my shoulders and I then battering rammed everyone out of the way until his cart was filled with what he came for. When it was over, Alec Baldwin thanked me and gave me a hearty handshake while slipping some cash in my hand. I won’t say how much it was but just know that when the supervisor that abandoned me to Bakula saw what happened and told me I couldn’t accept the tip, I Sagat laughed (Street Fighter 2 winning pose) in his face.
I promptly clocked out and went to the electronics department thinking that I could now afford to buy another Dreamcast to make up for the one I had to return a few months earlier. I noticed that for the price of the Dreamcast and one game, I could get the original PlayStation with 5 greatest hits games, so I did. Not all of the games I got that day were gems but I had a nice variety to work with. I bought:
- Final Fantasy VII
- Tomorrow Never Dies 007
- Metal Gear Solid
- South Park Rally
- and Resident Evil
While there was a definite drop in graphics from the N64 to the PS1, I was introduced to new levels of gameplay and storytelling that I had been missing out on. It only took 20 minutes with Metal Gear Solid to make me the lifelong MGS fan that I am today. My experience with voice acting in games was previously limited to “do a barrel roll” in Starfox 64 (still love that game by he way). The PlayStation became my favorite console and even though I still purchase every new system that comes along, PlayStation still gets the most love in my house.
Now that I think back on it, had I not bought that PlayStation I would not be where I am today. With the other game consoles I owned, I was perfectly happy to just sit there and play them but I never thought to make a website about them. I would have never applied for that job at Funcoland (R.I.P. also damn you GameStop) that got me into my first E3 in 2001. I would have never made some of the great contacts and friends in the industry that I have now. I definitely would not have conquered my fear of flying in 2014 to go to Japan for my first ever Tokyo Game Show.
So, there you have it, the story of how I owe my love of PlayStation to Alec Baldwin and why I will never watch anything starring Scott Bakula or shop at Target ever again.