Alex J. Lopez
A lifetime video gamer, the first video game Alex ever saw happened to be the early arcade machine, Gun Fight from Midway. It was the summer of 1977 in a mall near Cape Cod in Massachusetts while on a family vacation, and he was only 6 years old. The day was made even more memorable later that evening, when his parents treated Alex and his two brothers to a new movie at a local drive-in theater. That movie happened to be Star Wars.
Throughout the 80’s Alex enjoyed many of the era’s greatest arcade games at a small arcade in Homestead , Florida in the Campbell Square Shopping Center . To his memory, the arcade didn’t have a fancy name; a simple sign reading “ARCADE” hung over the door in the corner of the shopping center. He also enjoyed playing arcade games at the local skating rink, Sunshine Skateway (also in Homestead ), and in the late 80’s at a larger arcade in the Cutler Ridge Mall.
Gaming at home began on the Atari 2600. He was a late adopter of home console video gaming, he and his brothers having recieved the system for Christmas in 1982. Ironically enough, along with the packed-in Combat game, the infamous ET: The Extra Terrestrial cartridge was among the presents they opened that year.
It wasn’t long before home computing caught Alex’s interest, and the following year he found a Commodore VIC-20 under the tree. He credits this system mainly with his ongoing love for video games, having spent hours upon hours playing games on it daily, and meticulously typing in game programs line by line from Magazines like Compute’s Gazzette. He also got his first “online” experience on Commodore systems, frequenting various BBS’s and later playing his first online game after upgrading to a Commodore 64 via a simple game of Chess with a friend across town.
As the 80’s wound down and became the 90’s, the NES made its’ debut in the Lopez household. It was also a bit late in the game, the summer of 1988, and the system had already been available for a few years. Alex spent many hours playing NES, and counts many of his favorite games among the system’s library. He even had a brief fling with NEC’s TurboGrafx-16 system before leaving for Basic Training at Fort Knox , Kentucky after joining the US Army in 1991.
Being a soldier meant spending a ton of time on the move and in the field. Fortunately, Nintendo’s original Game Boy system was the perfect solution to keep Alex’s gaming needs satisfied under those circumstances. And although he briefly owned other handheld systems such as Sega’s Game Gear, none held his interest as much as the Game Boy. Back at the barracks, he did get some limited time with Nintendo’s SNES and Sega’s Genesis, mainly enjoying multiplayer games such as Super Mario Kart and Mortal Kombat with his fellow soldiers. One of his most memorable gaming moments was completing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on SNES over a relaxing week off from work.
In late 1994, he rejoined the civilian world, and was surprised to find that his younger brother Javier had joined the growing ranks of Windows PC gamers. He initially had no interest in PC gaming, and was mainly looking forward to playing around with an already somewhat vintage Amiga 500 he had won in a bet from one of his Army buddies over a Dolphins-Eagles game. But after a quick demo and a look at something called “the internet”, Javier drove his brother to Best Buy where a shiny new Acer was bought along with a copy of Warcraft II. The Windows 95 system sported a 75mhz Pentium processor, 8 MB of Ram, and a 750 MB hard drive (yes, that's megabytes, not gigabytes).
From there, Alex's 1990’s were mainly dominated by PC gaming and the treadmill of video card and system upgrades that went with it. In fact, Alex skipped the N64/Playstation era of console gaming altogether. As a longtime fan of Tolkien’s books and other works of fantasy-fiction, he enjoyed the elaborate and immersive RPG’s Windows gaming seemed to have an endless supply of. But after years of enjoying games like Diablo and Fallout, the end of that decade offered a new experience that Alex quickly found himself entangled in: Massively-Multiplayer Online games.
Alex was a day-one participant in the beta of Turbine’s ambitious MMO game, Asheron’s Call in 1998. Later, in March of 1999, Everquest was launched, which ushered in a decade-long adventure that generated some of the greatest gaming moments he’d ever experienced with folks who would go on to become some of his closest friends even today. 15-hour dungeon crawls with friends, 50-player dragon raids—Everquest offered experiences Alex never before could have imagined. He still has an active Everquest subscription, though he only plays occasionally, finding today's MMOGs to have evolved into something that doesn’t quite capture the imagination as it once did.
It was during this time that his brother Javier once again played a role in shaping things to come as far as his gaming interests were concerned. Javier had owned and enjoyed a Nintendo 64, and knowing how Alex had missed some of the great games of that era he turned his brother on to an obscure emulator called Ultra-HLE that had made it possible for N64 games to be played on a Windows PC. After a few weeks of tinkering with the emulator and getting re-acquainted with the great Nintendo franchises, he rushed out and bought a Nintendo GameCube in 2003 and never looked back.
And although Alex’s gaming interests in the past several years have mainly been on the Nintendo side, he has enjoyed other systems such as Sega’s Dreamcast as well. He currently owns all of the current generation consoles and handhelds (DSi, PSP, Wii, 360, PS3), and continues to discover fantastic games of the past that he previously missed out on. He’s only recently discovered some of the great games of the original Xbox and PS2, having completely skipped out on those two systems during that generation.
Alex’s love for Nintendo gaming along with inspiration from his favorite podcasts Dual Screen Radio and RetroGaming Radio, led him to create and host his own podcast in 2008, Wii Minute Radio. With guidance and support from Shane R. Monroe, Wii Minute Radio became a 5-star rated podcast on iTunes and generated tens of thousands of downloads over the course of its’ run. Wii Minute Radio’s companion YouTube channel has also generated hundreds of subscribers and thousands of views.
Alex was thrilled to join his friends Shane R. Monroe and Chris Hentschel in 2010 when they announced they’d be joining forces and combining the efforts of Dual Screen Radio and Wii Minute Radio along with other gaming coverage into one featured podcast, The MonroeWorld GameCast. Along with co-hosting MGC, Alex also plays roles in media relations, forums administration, and NGC database administration for the MonroeWorld gaming network.
|(c) Copyright 1997 - 2013 By Shane R. Monroe. All rights reserved.|