The Game Boy is officially 30 years old today. As someone who is also turning 30 this year, Nintendo’s first portable console was a crucial part of my upbringing. As an only child, I spent a lot of time playing video games. Sure, the NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64 provided hours of fun, but Game Boy gave me fun on the go. It revolutionized how I experienced my favorite hobby and also introduced me to iconic characters and new genres that helped define my video game career.
I’ll never forget being in fifth grade, playing Pokémon Red on a field trip. After months of playing through my first RPG and capturing my favorite creatures, I reached the Elite Four. Sitting on the school bus, my classmates huddled around my chair as I fought Lance’s Dragonite. He was destroying my team, but in a sudden stroke of luck, I was able to persevere. My friends and I started cheering uncontrollably as my Pokémon leveled up and the victory music blasted from the console’s speakers.
Game Boy was more than a console; it was a conversation piece. Growing up in New York City found me surrounded by so many people every day. From playing on the train to the cafeteria at school to the library, and even the park, people always seemed fascinated by the console. I always had a link cable around during the Pokémon craze just in case any like-minded trainers wanted to trade with me. I loved when people asked what I was playing. Donkey Kong Land 2, Conker’s Pocket Tales, Tetris Attack, Pokemon Red, and Link’s Awakening were my favorite games to carry around with me.
I had social anxiety growing up due to a disability and because I was an only child. Making friends has always been difficult in my life. Game Boy was a tool in helping me break out of my shell. I met countless friends through video games and because of the portable nature of the console. Currently, the 3DS, Switch, and our mobile phones allow us to network and play with other gamers looking for camaraderie. Without Game Boy and the way it revolutionized mobile gaming, we may not have had the luxury of playing on the go as we do now.
Happy birthday, Game Boy. Little did you know the legacy you would leave behind. Portable gaming became mainstream because of you, and you helped me (and others like me) to discover the type of person I am. Game Boy is near and dear to my heart, and it’s one of the many reasons why I’m still a fan of Nintendo after 28 years of playing video games.