The first time I encountered Silent Hill was the summer following its release.  I was spending the summer up at my Uncle’s house and it was one of the titles he had recently acquired from a big “Andrew’s coming up here” sale.  Parasite Eve and a couple less notable bargain games were also included.  I brought up my beloved Final Fantasy: Tactics and a couple Tool CDs.  I can honestly say it was one of the best summers of my youth; one of the only good summers in those days.

I continued my quest through Deep Dungeon and explored Parasite Eve during the day while he was at work.  At night he came home and played “his game,” Silent Hill.

That summer was great not just because I was spoiled for the first time in my life.  It was awesome because I had something close to a nuclear family that enjoyed spending time with each other.  His wife, my cousin, and my sister would all crowd around the TV at night and watch him play Silent Hill.  We’d all shout out suggestion to puzzles while dinner cooked.  We gasped in unison when the radio chirped signifying a monster was near.

After dinner we’d watch episodes of Star Trek: Voyager or a Disney Movie for my cousin. Everyone went to bed in a specific order: cousin, his wife, my sister.  They left us to do whatever together.  I’d beat his ass in Tekken 2 or 3, whichever he wasn’t tired of, or school him in Bushido Blade (to this day one of my personal favorite Fighters).

At some point he’d go to sleep because he had to work in the morning and I’d stay up way too late gaming.

We never played Silent Hill when the others weren’t around because it had become our family thing.

Last weekend my fiance and I went to her dad’s house.  While there I discovered she shared a similar experience with her family.  The game was Silent Hill 2 though and her father, unlike my uncle, was the farthest thing from a nerd on the planet.  We’re talking the bluest collar man alive; he kills deer with guns and builds things out of wood and shit.  This man played Silent Hill 2 while his family watched.  Proving two things:

1.  Anyone can enjoy video games, especially if that game is Silent Hill 2 because it’s fucking awesome.

2.  Videos games can make for great family bonding.

I’m a grown up now.  As I’ve gotten older I’ve played video games less and less with actual human beings present.  Unless you’re younger and currently live with your siblings, I bet you’re in the same boat as me.  Multiplayer is something for MMOs.  An audience is for Youtube or Twitch.  Those aren’t bad things unless you forget to share the gaming experience with people physically in your life.

I hope that as my son grows up he has memories of kicking his dad’s ass in some fighter.  I’d love for my family to crowd around our 60″ HDTV, while I beat some particularly cinematic or scary game – the family shouting out “jump now” or something like that.

My earliest memories of video games involve going over to a friend’s house to play them or having a friend sleep over.  My best memories are of a makeshift family crowded around Silent Hill.

Maybe it makes me a bad father, but I fully intend to subject my family to a video game night.